Rebels end trip with tough loss, 86-84

CAIRNS, Queensland, Australia – Kendall Wallace missed a 3-pointer at the buzzer as UNLV came back from a 19-point deficit but lost to the Cairns Marlins, 86-84, at the Bendigo Bank Basketball Centre on Wednesday night. The game was UNLV's last of its Australian tour.

Trailing by one point with 30 seconds left, Tre'Von Willis stole the ball and then later attacked the basket in the paint but was called for an offensive foul with six seconds remaining. The Marlins' Kerry Williams made one of two free throw attempts before the Runnin' Rebels raced down the court for the final shot.

Cairns' Scott Cook led all scorers with 28 points on 7-of-14 shooting along with 12-of-13 from the free throw line, while Williams added 13 points and Matt Smith scored 11. The Marlins shot 58 percent from the field for the game on 31-of-53 shooting and just 19 percent from 3-point range (3-of-16). Cairns had a 20-point advantage in points in the paint, while UNLV shot 46 percent from the field (27-of-59).

UNLV had four players in double figures in scoring and was led by Joe Darger's 23. Willis added 20, while Wink Adams scored 14 and Wallace had 11. UNLV held a 31-22 advantage on the boards and was led by Adams and Willis, who each had six.

The Marlins used a 23-10 run over the last seven minutes of the first quarter to take a 29-15 lead and increased their advantage to 19 points when they led 34-15 early in the second. The Runnin' Rebels cut the lead to eight at 44-36 with 1:52 left in the half, but Cairns outscored UNLV 7-2 over the rest of the half to take a 51-38 lead at halftime.

Cairns shot 63 percent from the field in the first half (17-of-27), while UNLV shot 42 percent. Cook led all scorers at halftime with 21 points and was 11-for-11 from the free throw line, while Darger had with 16 points in the first half on 4-of-6 from 3-point range.

UNLV opened the first six minutes of the second half by outscoring the Marlins 17-9 and cut the deficit to five points at 60-55. The Marlins pushed the lead back to 12 with 8:30 left in the game, but UNLV went on a 13-0 run over the next 2:30 and took a 75-74 lead after Willis made a long 3-pointer to beat the shot clock and René Rougeau stole the ball and slammed it home on the break. It was back and forth the rest of the way from there with five lead changes.

"It was a really good battle and our guys did exactly that," UNLV head coach Lon Kruger said. "Being down 19 points on the road is a big hole to dig out of, but in the second half we came back, fought hard, made plays for each other and made some shots. It came down to the wire and you can't beat the game experience, in June, especially. It was back and forth at the end with both teams making plays and getting some good stops as well.

"We had a wide open 3-pointer with three seconds to go and we will take that anytime. Everyone did a good job on that play - Joe got the ball to Tre'Von and Tre'Von did a good job finding Kendall, who had a good look at it and we will take that anytime."

The Marlins are the defending Australia Basketball Association's national champions.

UNLV finished the tour with a 4-2 mark, losing the first, winning four straight, then dropping the last game. The Runnin' Rebels lost their first contest on Thursday, 72-64, to the Sutherland Sharks, defeated the Illawarra Seahawks, 77-75, on Friday, beat the West Sydney Razorbacks, 77-71, on Saturday, defeated the Queensland All-Stars, 96-76, on Monday and beat the South West Metro Pirates, 97-55, on Tuesday.

UNLV will return to Las Vegas on Saturday and is scheduled to arrive just after 10 a.m.

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