FRESNO, Calif. — Cheer up, UNLV basketball fans, Terrell Carter II is a senior and soon will not be delivering nothing but misery to the Rebels.
He tends to step up whenever the Rebels are on the court, and Tuesday he came off the bench to score 18 points and grab six rebounds. And it was his late blocked shot and then two free throws with 4.9 seconds left that sealed the victory for Fresno State, which won 69-63 at Save Mart Center.
Carter, a reserve who entered the game averaging 5.8 points, has a history of producing double-digit points against UNLV.
It was the first Mountain West road defeat for the Rebels (14-6, 3-4 MW). UNLV had been 3-0 in such games.
“I was really disappointed we couldn’t come away with another road victory based on our effort,” Rebels coach Marvin Menzies said. “I thought the guys really fought tonight. I thought we did some good things defensively, but we just couldn’t pull it out, so it’s one of those games where you really feel bad for the guys because I thought they played their hearts out.”
Fresno State appeared well on the way to victory in taking a 65-57 lead with 1:38 left, but then UNLV point guard Jordan Johnson twice drove for layups, drawing the foul each time to convert two three-point plays to make the score 65-63 and prompt a Bulldogs timeout with a minute left.
The second three-point play was set up by strong defense by the Rebels’ Mbacke Diong on Carter, who had beaten the Rebels inside for 16 points on 8-of-11 shooting until that time.
But UNLV failed to catch Fresno State (15-6, 5-3) down the stretch. After the Bulldogs’ Deshon Taylor missed the front end of a one-and-one with 18.2 seconds left, the Rebels had a chance to tie or take the lead, but Johnson was blocked by Carter on a drive and Brandon McCoy missed the follow shot.
It was a rough trip all around for the Rebels, whose chartered airplane experienced mechanical difficulties, forcing UNLV to fly the day of the game. The Rebels took an early morning commercial flight to Fresno and were scheduled to bus home following the game.
They looked travel-weary from the beginning, with Fresno State bolting to a 9-1 lead. But the Rebels quickly caught up and took a 22-15 lead before their offense deserted them the rest of the half, allowing Fresno State to take a 36-29 lead into intermission.
UNLV fought back in the second half, and Fresno State temporarily lost leading scorer Deshon Taylor to an apparent right leg injury with 13:49 left. Taylor, who entered the game averaging 19.1 points, did not put any weight on the leg as he was helped into the locker room, but he returned a few minutes later.
The Rebels went ahead 53-52 on Amauri Hardy’s driving layup with 9:20 remaining, and the game was close the rest of the way.
■ Smith suspended — UNLV junior forward Anthony Smith was suspended indefinitely for breaking team rules. He has missed seven of the past nine games, including the one at Fresno State. Smith last played Jan. 6 against Utah State, appearing for two minutes and scoring two points.