FRESNO, Calif. - This time, Anthony Bennett never had a chance to take a go-ahead shot with the game on the line, and coach Dave Rice was not in a position to be second-guessed for calling a questionable play.
UNLV, arguably the Mountain West's most talented team, played out a meaningless final minute against the league's last-place team Wednesday night. It was a blowout.
It also was a complete embarrassment for the Rebels.
And it was night Kevin Olekaibe never will forget, because he stuck it to his hometown team in a way few could have imagined. Olekaibe's dream game was Rice's nightmare.
"It's a very disappointing loss for us," said Rice, who was at a loss for "magic answers" to describe UNLV's disappearing act.
Olekaibe, a junior guard from Cimarron-Memorial High School, poured in 21 points to help Fresno State run roughshod over the Rebels 64-55 at the Save Mart Center, where the game was more one-sided than the score.
At the midpoint of the conference schedule, UNLV (17-6, 4-4) is all but out of the championship race and hoping to play for second place.
"We're all disappointed, and we're all mad," said senior guard Anthony Marshall, who contributed a team-high 19 points to the Rebels' lost cause. "Nobody is happy about losing."
If he was angry and embarrassed, Rice kept it to himself. He calmly answered questions for about 10 minutes, never showing a hint of emotion other than quiet disappointment.
"Our effort was fine. I was proud of our guys that we fought to the end. We competed," Rice said. "We got good shots. We just absolutely could not make a shot. We lost our confidence on the offensive end."
UNLV shot 35 percent from the field, committed 15 turnovers and allowed the Bulldogs (8-13, 2-6) to stretch their lead to 16 points in the second half.
In a 77-72 loss at Boise State on Saturday, Bennett's shot selection and Rice's play-calling in the final minute were criticized. Instead of bouncing back, the Rebels completely broke down and dropped to 1-4 on the league road.
Olekaibe shot 7-for-12, including 4-for-7 from 3-point range, in his best performance of the season. Tyler Johnson added 15 points and 10 rebounds for Fresno State, which stopped its four-game skid.
"It gave me more fire because I'm from Vegas, I knew a lot of people were watching, and UNLV is a very good team," Olekaibe said.
Bennett, the Rebels' leading scorer and the top NBA prospect in the conference as a freshman, missed eight of his first nine shots. He finished 5-for-16 with 15 points and nine rebounds before going to the bench to watch the meaningless final 29 seconds tick off the clock.
"We played, I think, the most talented team in our league," Bulldogs coach Rodney Terry said. "You know we've got really good teams in our league, but man to man down their roster, they have the most talent in our league. We knew coming in we had an unbelievable challenge."
Rice also is coaching an underachieving team, one that lacked toughness and turned into a total mess offensively.
In a sluggish game tied at 24 at halftime, only one team picked up the pace. Olekaibe hit a pair of 3-pointers early in the second half, sparking a 23-7 run that put Fresno State up 49-33 with 9:24 left.
Bennett's fast-break layup sliced UNLV's deficit to 54-48 with 2:45 remaining. Rice said he was proud of his team's rally. But the Rebels' next three possessions resulted in missed 3s by Marshall and Mike Moser and a turnover by Moser.
"We just didn't make some shots that we normally make, and we had a couple mess-ups on a couple defensive assignments," Marshall said. "I felt we came out and competed hard."
Marshall made 7 of 10 shots, including 3 of 6 3-pointers. Five other players shot a combined 1-for-15 on 3s.
Moser and senior guard Justin Hawkins each went scoreless. Hawkins shot 0-for-4 and is 3-for-23 over the past five games.
"Teams are forcing us to shoot the ball from the perimeter," Rice said. "The only thing I know is when you get knocked down is to get back up."
UNLV hosts league-leading No. 15 New Mexico on Saturday.
"The only way we can go from here is up," Marshall said. "Are we going to lay down or are we going to battle? I think we're going to battle."
Contact reporter Matt Youmans at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-387-2907. Follow him on Twitter: @mattyoumans247.