March 9, 2006
DENVER (AP) - Ricky Morgan sank two free throws with 16 seconds left to cap a comeback from a 13-point second-half deficit and give UNLV a 65-64 win over New Mexico in the Mountain West Conference quarterfinals Thursday.
After a timeout, Jeff Hart, a former walk-on who set a career high with five steals and tied a career high with 15 points on five 3-pointers, shot a hurried air ball from beyond the arc.
A wild scramble for the rebound ensued and Lobos guard Kris Collins ended up with the ball at midcourt but his desperation heave was way short as the buzzer sounded.
Collins ripped off his jersey in despair as the Lobos (17-13), the defending conference tournament champion, saw its slim NCAA hopes erased.
The Rebels (17-12) advanced to play top-seeded San Diego State (22-8) in the semifinals Friday night at the Pepsi Center.
Morgan led UNLV with 16 points. His two free throws capped a comeback from a 43-30 deficit with 16:16 left that was fueled by a tenacious fullcourt press, New Mexico's poor free-throw shooting and several close calls that went UNLV's way in the final few minutes.
The Lobos made just 5-of-12 free throws, negating their 9-of-19 performance from beyond the arc.
After UNLV tied it at 62 on Wendell White's jumper with 2:06 remaining, Tony Dandridge (11 points) restored New Mexico's lead with a 15-foot jumper at 1:45.
Louis Amundson hit one of two free throws to pull the Rebels to 64-63 with 1:12 remaining.
Dandridge was fouled with 24 seconds left but after a timeout missed both free throws and White grabbed the rebound for the Rebels.
Hart fouled Morgan, whose two free throws gave the Rebels their first lead since 4-3.
The Lobos took a 34-24 halftime lead despite foul trouble from David Chiotti, their best post player. Hart sank a trio of 3-pointers in the final six minutes of the first half to give the Lobos a double-digit cushion they maintained until the Rebels began their charge with seven minutes left.
In and out of the lineup in the second half with four fouls, Chiotti finished with 6 points, half his average.
White scored 14 points, Amundson 11 and Jo'Van Adams 10 as the Rebels avenged a 47-39 loss to the Lobos in Albuquerque on March 1 when they shot a season-worst 24 percent and matched their lowest output in the program's history.
New Mexico guard Mark Walters, back, goes over UNLV forward Louis Amundson for a shot during the first half. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)