No. 17 UNLV pulls away for 74-63 win over Wyoming
LAS VEGAS (AP) Some timely scoring by Kendall Wallace helped UNLV wrap up a perfect season at home.
Next, the 17th-ranked Runnin' Rebels get another matchup with pesky Wyoming.
Wallace had a season-high 14 points and UNLV beat the Cowboys 74-63 on Saturday night to finish 17-0 at home, its first unblemished mark since 1991-92.
"I couldn't have ended it any better," the senior guard said. "It was like a storybook ending. It was kind of crazy. It was like it was meant to be."
Mike Moser had 17 points and 12 rebounds, and senior Brice Massamba added a career-high 15 points for UNLV. Anthony Marshall scored 12 for the Runnin' Rebels (25-7, 9-5 Mountain West Conference), who will face Wyoming again in the first round of the conference tournament.
Wyoming stayed within single digits until the final 4 minutes before a white-out, sellout crowd of 18,577 at the Thomas & Mack Center on Senior Night.
The 6-foot-4 Wallace went 3 of 4 from 3-point range. He converted a four-point play with 10:53 left, giving the Rebels a 57-47 lead.
"I felt a sense of relief when I saw a couple of my early shots going in," Wallace said. "It was like a monkey on my back. I couldn't wait to get rid of it."
The Rebels play Wyoming in the league tournament on their home floor Thursday night. UNLV is the third seed, while the Cowboys (20-10, 6-8) are No. 6 in the eight-team format.
"Everyone saw what a terrific basketball team Wyoming has," said UNLV coach Dave Rice, who played on the Rebels' 1990 team. "It's never easy playing a team again. It's tough coming off a win. It's a new season."
Oscar Bellfield had nine assists for the Rebels. Moser, who did not score in double digits the previous four games, bounced back with a big effort to help UNLV avenge a Feb. 4 loss at Wyoming.
"This was definitely a huge one for me," Moser said. "My teammates have been supportive. They helped me stay positive. I was glad to even up the score (against Wyoming). This is a big win for us."
The Rebels pulled away in the final 4 minutes. Massamba's layup with 3:48 left put them up by double digits for good.
"I felt good," Cruz said. "When I was open, my teammates were able to find me. It was a tough game. (UNLV's) seniors were good late in the game. That made the difference."
UNLV, which never trailed, finished the regular season 16-0 at the Thomas & Mack Center.
The Rebels were 19-0 overall in Las Vegas. That includes two Las Vegas Invitational games at Orleans Arena, where they defeated then-No. 1 North Carolina 90-80 in the championship game.
UNLV began the day with slim hopes of sharing the conference's regular-season title, but New Mexico and San Diego State both won to share the crown.
The Rebels' 25 wins were their most in the regular season since the 2006-07 team also won 25 en route to reaching the round of 16 in the NCAA tournament.
"We were in such serious foul trouble, we couldn't guard them well enough," Wyoming coach Larry Shyatt said. "We were down five with 6 minutes to go. After that, we couldn't overcome our seniors' foul trouble. We drew too many offensive fouls. You can't do that to yourself against a quality team."
After UNLV opened an 18-8 lead, Wyoming cut the deficit to 33-32 with 1:10 left in the first half. Wallace's 3-pointer from the left side with 46 seconds until halftime gave UNLV a little breathing room at the break, 36-32.
"Kendall is the epitome of a team player," Rice said. "He's been guarding well. Couldn't happen to be a better person. Our guys pull for Kendall. Tonight, we saw how good he can be."
Updated March 4, 2012