UNLV beats Utah 61-55 to earn return trip to MWC title game
LAS VEGAS (AP)—Wink Adams and Curtis Terry each scored 20 points, leading UNLV back into the Mountain West Conference championship with a 61-55 win over Utah in the semifinals Friday night.
The second-seeded Runnin’ Rebels (25-7) will face top-seeded and 24th-ranked BYU (27-6), the team they beat for the title a year ago, also at the rockin’ Thomas & Mack Center.
While Adams and Terry were providing the muscle, guard Rene Rougeau supplied the muscle, darting in to grab rebound after rebound over 7-foot center Luke Nevill, who was limited to 15 points and five boards.
Rougeau had his third double-double with 12 points and 11 rebounds. He had a couple of key put-backs and two critical offensive boards that led to a big basket on a finger-roll by Terry.
Terry’s bucket made it 53-49 with just over a minute to go and it came with the exhausted Utes all standing around, making it look like a pregame layup drill.
After that, the Rebels, 74 percent free throw shooters, sank eight-of-10 from the stripe, including 5-of-6 from Adams, to hold off Utah (17-14).
Terry’s NBA-long 3-pointer gave the Runnin’ Rebels a 25-24 halftime lead after they had trailed by eight points midway through the half, and he hit another big 3 to put the Rebels ahead 42-41 with 9:19 left, and the Utes never saw the lead again.
Johnnie Bryant and Lawrence Borha each scored 10 points for the Utes, but the usually reliable shooter Shaun Green was held to two points on 1-of-7 shooting. His only bucket was a putback that made it 58-55.
BYU and UNLV split a strange season series this year, with the Runnin’ Rebels winning a 70-41 rout in Las Vegas and the Cougars responding with a 74-48 laugher in Salt Lake City.
Last year, the Runnin’ Rebels beat the Cougars 78-70 in the title game.