The UNLV basketball team apparently has found its comfort zone in its six-game exhibition tour of Australia, and it’s from 3-point range.
Senior guard Mareceo Rutledge hit a 3 with 1:25 left to break a 69-all tie, and Wink Adams added an insurance 3-pointer with 55 seconds left Saturday as the Rebels improved to 2-1 on their tour with a 77-71 win over the West Sydney Razorbacks in North Parramatta, New South Wales.
Redshirt sophomore guard Tre’Von Willis led all scorers with 24 points, including 18 in the second half. Adams finished with 18 points, and Rutledge, who played his third straight strong game, scored 14.
The Rebels made 10 3-pointers in the game, the third one of six during their tour, which concludes July 5. UNLV next will travel to Brisbane to play the Queensland All-Stars on Monday.
"This was our second consecutive win and (second) consecutive night that we have played better," UNLV coach Lon Kruger said. "That is the key on a trip like this — seeing progress both individually and as a group. I thought this was the best team we played so far, and our guys responded."
The Rebels also were active on the boards against the much taller Razorbacks, with Rutledge and Joe Darger each collecting nine rebounds. Beas Hamga had eight rebounds and Kendall Wallace and Rene Rougeau seven apiece.
"Tre’Von had his best effort tonight, Mareceo continued to do really good things, and the other guys continued doing what they have always done," Kruger said. "It is really good to see the progress we are making both individually and as a group."
Matt Knight led the Razorbacks with 13 points. The Razorbacks play in the Australian National Basketball League, the country’s top professional league.
West Sydney opened the game with a 12-2 run, but the Rebels charged back with a 23-6 burst to lead by seven points early in the second quarter. The score was tied at 35 at halftime.
The Razorbacks used an 18-6 run to start the second half to post their largest lead at 12 points with about three minutes left in the third quarter.
But, again, UNLV responded, taking a 69-66 lead with about three minutes remaining. During the stretch, Willis and Adams combined to score 20 straight points.
Unlike the American college game that is played in halves, these exhibition games are played in quarters.
"When we were down by 12 late in the third, I felt it was time for me to be aggressive on offense and get my teammates in better positions to be successful," Willis said. "I am happy with the progress that I have made in these three games. I feel like I have been getting better each time out, making adjustments both personally and teamwise.
"I struggled the first game setting up the offense (and then) did a better job the second game. But this game I wanted to take control (of the offense) and make sure everyone was in their spots."
UNLV had dropped its exhibition tour opener 72-64 to the Sutherland Sharks on Thursday. But the Rebels bounced back Friday to beat the Illawarra Seahawks, 77-75.
Provided by Mike Clauretie