Willis Leads Rebels Past West Sydney, 77-71

NORTH PARRAMATTA, New South Wales, Australia - Mareceo Rutledge made a 3-pointer to break a 69-69 tie with 1:25 to play and Wink Adams hit another with 55 seconds left to help UNLV get past the West Sydney Razorbacks, 77-71, at The Walter Friend Sports Centre at The King's School on Saturday afternoon.

Tre'Von Willis scored 18 second-half points and led all scorers with 24 points for the game. The Runnin' Rebels made 10 3-pointers on the afternoon, including four by Willis.

With the win, UNLV improved to 2-1 on the trip. Adams and Rutledge were also in double figures in scoring with 18 and 14 points, respectively. Rutledge and Darger led the team in rebounding with nine each, Beas Hamga added eight, while Kendall Wallace and René Rougeau each had seven.

"This was our second consecutive win and third consecutive night that we have played better," UNLV head coach Lon Kruger said. "That is the key on a trip like this - seeing progress both individually and as a group. I thought this was the best team we played so far and our guys responded.

"Tre'Von had his best effort tonight, Mareceo continued to do really good things and the other guys continued doing what they have always done. It is really good to see the progress we are making both individually and as a group."

Matt Knight led the Razorbacks in scoring with 13 points and was followed by Julian Khazzouh with 12 and Clint Reed with 11. Knight had a double-double with a game-high 11 rebounds. The Razorbacks play in the Australian National Basketball League, which is the top professional league in the country.

West Sydney opened the game with a 12-2 run, but the Runnin' Rebels charged back with a 23-6 spurt to lead by seven early in the second quarter. The game was tied at 35 at halftime.

The Razorbacks opened the second half with an 18-6 run to take their biggest lead of the game at 12 points with just over three minutes left in the third quarter. But again, UNLV responded and took a three-point lead at 69-66 with just under three minutes to play. During the stretch, Willis and Adams combined to score 20 straight points.

"When we were down by 12 late in the third, I felt it was time for me to be aggressive on offense and get my teammates in better positions to be successful," said Willis. "I am happy with the progress that I have made in these three games. I feel like I have been getting better each time out, making adjustments both personally and team-wise. I struggled the first game setting up the offense, did a better job the second game, but this game I wanted to take control (of the offense) and make sure everyone was in their spots."

The game was UNLV's third 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 and defeated the Illawarra Seahawks, 77-75, on Friday night.

UNLV will now travel to Brisbane and play its fourth game on Monday against the Queensland All-Stars.

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