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Rebels fall in Aussie finale

Kendall Wallace did his best to will the ball in. It just wouldn’t go.

The sophomore guard, who made 6 of 8 3-point attempts a day earlier in a rout of the South West Metro Pirates, missed a 3-point try at the final buzzer Wednesday as the UNLV basketball team rallied from a 19-point deficit but lost to the Cairns Marlins 86-84 in the final game of a six-game exhibition tour of Australia in Cairns, Queensland.

With the loss to the defending Australian Basketball Association champions, UNLV finished its slate of games Down Under with a 4-2 record.

With the Rebels trailing 85-84 with 30 seconds left, UNLV’s Tre’Von Willis stole the ball and attacked the basket. He was called for an offensive foul with six seconds to play, and the Marlins’ Kerry Williams made 1 of 2 free throws to put Cairns up by two.

The Rebels then raced the ball downcourt, but Wallace’s long shot missed as time expired.

UNLV had four players finish in double-figure scoring, led by senior forward Joe Darger with 23 points. Willis, a redshirt sophomore guard, scored 20, senior guard Wink Adams had 14 and Wallace 11.

“We had a wide-open 3-pointer with three seconds to go. We will take that anytime,” UNLV coach Lon Kruger said. “Everyone did a good job on that play. Joe got the ball to Tre’Von, and Tre’Von did a good job finding Kendall, who had a good look at (the basket).”

The Marlins’ Scott Cook led all scorers with 28 points on 7-for-14 shooting and a 12-for-13 effort from the free-throw line.

Cairns shot 58 percent (31-for-53) from the field and had a 20-point advantage in the paint. UNLV shot 46 percent (27-for-59) from the floor.

The Rebels had a 31-22 rebounding edge.

UNLV, which trailed 34-15 early in the second quarter, outscored the Marlins 17-9 in the first six minutes of the third quarter to close to within 60-55.

The Marlins pushed the lead to 12 with 8:30 to play, but UNLV went on a 13-0 run in the next 2:30 to take a 75-74 lead.

The final six minutes featured five lead changes.

“It was a really good battle, and our guys did exactly that,” Kruger said. “Being down 19 points on the road is a big hole to dig out of, but in the second half, we came back, fought hard, made plays for each other and made some shots.

“It came down to the wire. You can’t beat the game experience — in June, especially.”

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