Amauri Hardy and Bryce Hamilton raised their offensive play in the second half Saturday, and Vitaliy Shibel even had some crucial baskets for UNLV.
But when it came to winning time, Marvin Coleman was the player with the ball in his hands.
Coleman pulled up and banked in a 15-footer with 0.8 seconds left to give the Rebels a 68-67 Mountain West victory over Fresno State at the Thomas & Mack Center.
“It was amazing,” said Coleman, a Foothill High School product. “All my teammates running up to me, that’s the best part.”
The victory for the Rebels (12-13, 7-5 MW) snapped a four-game losing streak. Hardy scored 18 points, and Hamilton had 17 points and eight rebounds. Shibel scored 13.
Orlando Robinson, who went to Centennial High, led Fresno State (8-16, 4-9) with 24 points.
Here are three takeaways:
1. UNLV gets defensive
The Rebels trailed 21-9 in the first half before going on a 13-point run to temporarily take the lead. They played better offensively during that stretch, but the defense was more responsible for the run.
UNLV held the Bulldogs scoreless for 6½ minutes during that stretch.
“We really had to hang our hats on getting stops,” Hardy said. “That’s what did it for us. That enabled us to get out and run and play aggressively as we liked.”
The Rebels also did an outstanding job defending Nate Grimes, a former Desert Pines High player. He had 12 points and 12 rebounds in UNLV’s 81-80 double-overtime victory over the Bulldogs in December.
On Saturday, Grimes didn’t score and took only four shots, though he did have 10 rebounds. It was the first time he was held scoreless since Feb. 20, 2019, against Air Force.
He was averaging 12.7 points.
“He can score it from the 3-point line and around the basket,” UNLV coach T.J. Otzelberger said. “We wanted to make sure when he caught it around the goal, we did a great job shrinking the floor so he didn’t have too much space to make a play. On the perimeter, we wanted to take away his rhythm in a catch-and-shoot 3-point shot. Our front-line guys were very intentional in doing that.”
2. Otzelberger gets fired up
Maybe it was frustration from having seen Fresno State players travel twice without a call. No matter, a charge call on UNLV forward Donnie Tillman with 8:03 left set off Otzelberger.
He screamed at one of the officials and was hit with a technical foul. Assistant coaches restrained Otzelberger as the crowd rained down boos on the officials.
Hardy said Otzelberger got the technical to get his players and the fans going.
“I’m trying to think of how I can say this,” Otzelberger said. “Let’s just go with yes, it was an opportunity to get the crowd into the game and to let our players know I had their back.”
3. Rebels pick it up offensively
Fresno State went from shooting 33.3 percent in the first half to 55.6 in the second, and UNLV had to match that. The Rebels did, going from 27.6 percent to 51.7.
Hardy and Hamilton each scored 13 points in the second half, and Shibel added 10.