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February 24, 2011Another close game, another loss.
UNLV beat the Lobos 77-74 Wednesday night in the Pit. New Mexico has played in two overtime games this season, and lost both. It was the fifth time the Lobos have lost by four points or less.
Missed free throws down the stretch were the culprit this time. UNM missed four key foul shots and could have won the game in regulation.
"We had a brutal foul shooting night,'' said UNM coach Steve Alford. "We get there 37 times. We hit 23 (62.2 percent). That's not awful. If we go 30 for 37, we go away with a win.''
UNLV led through most of the game and had a 15-point advantage with 14 minutes left in the game. But the Lobos came to life and caught up midway through the second half. After that, it was back and forth. One of two foul shots by senior Dairese Gary put New Mexico on top 67-65 with 27 seconds left. But Oscar Bellfield drove for a layup for the Rebels to tie the game and send it into overtime.
After UNM scored first basket of the extra period, UNLV went on a 10-5 run to put the game away.
"We've had five games we've literally lost on the last play of the game. But that's basketball,'' Alford noted. "It was a great comeback. We did a lot of good things. I approve of our effort. We're just trying to find ways to make those plays late.''
This was a game the Rebels (21-7, 9-5) needed for the sake of seeding in the NCAA tournament. The Lobos need not worry about the NCAA tournament but are in jeopardy of finishing sixth in the conference rankings and not going anywhere at the end of the season. UNM is 17-11, 5-8 and has lost four in a row.
Drew Gordon had another double-double with 15 points and 14 rebounds. Gary had a career-high 26 points by hitting 10 of 15 from the floor.