UNLV was in real danger of suffering an embarrassing loss at Wyoming, getting outplayed almost all of regulation.
The Rebels led for barely two minutes, but two free throws by Donnie Tillman with 12.9 seconds left sent Saturday’s game into overtime. Marvin Coleman and Jonah Antonio then opened the extra session with 3-pointers to put UNLV on its way to a 78-69 victory in Laramie.
This was UNLV’s fifth overtime game. The Rebels have won the past two in OT after losing their first three.
“Our guys had some grit to them,” UNLV coach T.J. Otzelberger said. “We’ve been in these spots before. We needed to be able to find a way to come out with the victory, and we were able to do that.”
Bryce Hamilton led the Rebels (9-9, 4-1 Mountain West) with 19 points, Antonio scored 15 and Coleman 14. The Rebels outrebounded the Cowboys 52-28.
For Wyoming (5-13, 0-6), Kwane Marble II scored 19 points and Jake Hendricks 18.
Victory didn’t look promising for UNLV when it trailed the Cowboys 63-56 with 1:25 left in regulation. Then Coleman’s 3 and Nick Blair’s tip-in closed the gap to two points with 43 seconds remaining, setting up Tillman for his two free throws.
Wyoming aided UNLV’s comeback by missing four free throws in the final 1:04.
UNLV struggled early, missing 15 of its first 17 shots. The Rebels shot 21.7 percent in the first 20 minutes, but hit on 50 percent each in the second half and overtime.
Coleman and Antonio scored all 15 UNLV points in the extra period.
Foul trouble limited Coleman to 21 minutes in regulation, and he showed his value when the Rebels needed him most.
“He was focused (while on the bench),” Otzelberger said. “He kept himself in the game. So many times guys say they’re not in the flow and the rhythm of the game. He did it by being a great teammate. Then he was ready to step up late, and he answered.”
Antonio is the Rebels’ best outside shooter, but he had trouble finding a rhythm after a thumb injury sidelined him for six games earlier this season. He was making 27.8 percent of his 3s before the game, but connected on 5 of 12 against the Cowboys.
“I loved his energy as we got into overtime,” Otzelberger said. “He was talking in the huddle and telling our guys we were going to win this game. We haven’t always shot it great, but with someone like Jonah, we’ve believed in him.”
UNLV plays San Jose State on Wednesday at the Thomas & Mack Center.
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