Sluggish Rebels drop Australian opener, 72-64

SUTHERLAND, New South Wales, Australia – After flying almost 8,000 miles around the world less than two days earlier, it was somewhat understandable if the UNLV basketball team came out a little sluggish in the first game of its six-game Australian tour here Thursday night.

The Runnin' Rebels fell behind by as many as 11 points, then rallied to take a lead before eventually falling to the Sutherland Sharks of the Waratah ABL, 72-64, at Sutherland Basketball Stadium.

Joe Darger led the Runnin' Rebels with 15 points and a game-high 12 rebounds for a double-double. Wink Adams and Mareceo Rutledge were also in double figures in scoring for UNLV with 13 points each while Russell Hinder scored a game-high 17 points and grabbed nine rebounds to lead Sutherland.

Seven-foot center Beas Hamga, playing in his first game for UNLV after sitting out the 2007-08 season as a redshirt, scored six points and pulled down 10 rebounds.

Kendall Wallace also scored six points for UNLV, Scott Hoffman added five, while René Rougeau and Tre'Von Willis both scored three. Willis was also playing his first game after sitting last year out as a redshirt.

The Sharks held their biggest lead of the game at 36-25 with 9:20 left to play in the third quarter, when UNLV used a 22-6 run over a span of 7:30 to take a 47-42 lead with just under two minutes to play in the third. During the run, Hoffman and Rutledge both made 3-pointers.

Sutherland surged back ahead and when leading 65-62 with under two minutes to play in the game, an apparent blocked shot by Hamga was called goaltending to give the Sharks a five-point lead. The Sharks closed out the game with five made free throws for the eight-point win.

"It was a great experience for our guys," UNLV head coach Lon Kruger said. "Especially for Beas and Tre'Von coming off of redshirt years. I thought Beas looked extremely confident out there and rebounded very well and Tre'Von had his first game where he was going a little bit more quickly than he needs to and he will learn from that. In all, it was a really good experience and there were a lot of opportunities to learn for our guys."

UNLV will play its second game of the tour on Friday against the Illawara Seahawks.

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