Wink Adams made two free throws in the final 15 seconds and the Seahawks missed a shot at the buzzer to give the Runnin' Rebels the win, improving their record to 1-1 on the trip.
René Rougeau led all players with nine rebounds, contributed 11 points and had seven steals. Rutledge added eight rebounds and Joe Darger was also in double figures in scoring with 11 points.
UNLV held a six-point lead with 24 seconds to play at 74-69, but Illawarra's Dominique Cooks converted on a 3-point play with 16 seconds left to cut the deficit to three. Adams then made the front end of a one-and-one before the Seahawks' Mat Campbell drained a 3-pointer with 10 seconds remaining to pull his team within one point at 76-75. Adams then again made just the front end of a one-and-one with seven seconds left.
"I thought we played much better," said UNLV head coach Lon Kruger. "The competition we were playing against was a little bigger and also an older group than last night. I thought our guys' intensity level was better and they had their legs more under them. We took some steps tonight and made some plays for each other."
Campbell led Illawarra in scoring with 14 points, followed by Chris Jackson with 13, Daniel Jackson with 12 and Anthony Petrie with 11. Campbell also led his squad in rebounding with eight, while Troy Pilon also had eight boards.
UNLV trailed 10-8 early in the contest, but scored seven straight points culminating with one of Rutledge's game-high four 3-pointers. UNLV then increased its advantage to 31-19 in the second quarter after three straight 3-pointers. The Runnin' Rebels led by as many as 14 points in the first half, and took a 43-35 lead into the break.
At one point in the second half, Willis scored 10 straight points for UNLV and a Rutledge 3-pointer at the buzzer to end the third quarter had UNLV leading 59-49.
Illawarra started the fourth quarter on an 11-2 run and later tied the score at 65-65 with 5:45 to play.
"We came out with more urgency tonight," said Rutledge. "We needed to be more aware and more aggressive than we were in our first game, and we were."
It was the second straight game that all eight of the Runnin' Rebels available to play scored.
"We had an extra night of sleep and our bodies were more used to this tonight," Wink Adams said. "We are just trying to get better and better, and tonight we came out, took the lead early and continued to hit our shots."
The game was UNLV's second on its six-game exhibition tour of Australia that runs through Saturday, July 5. The Runnin' Rebels lost their first contest on Thursday, 72-64, to the Sutherland Sharks.
UNLV will play its third game of the tour on Saturday against the West Sydney Razorbacks.
For further coverage of the Australian tour, click on the Runnin' Down Under graphic on the home page or men's basketball page at UNLVRebels.com.
Rebels bounce back to defeat Illawarra, 77-75
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