Shaw's 3-pointers lead UNLV past Weber State 72-63

Shaw's 3-pointers lead UNLV past Weber State 72-63

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LAS VEGAS -- The Weber State Wildcats (5-5, 1-0 Big Sky) faced their third Mountain West foe Thursday night in #23 UNLV (9-1). The Wildcats kept it interesting, but in the end were unable to keep up with the Rebels in Las Vegas, losing 72-63.

UNLV, led by Matt Shaw (16 points) and Chase Stanback (15 points, five rebounds, four blocks), used a stifling defense and a handful of big runs to stymie the Wildcats upset bid.

The Wildcats opened the game with the lead thanks to a Franklin Sessions 3-pointer, but then the tables quickly turned. The Rebels went on 20-6 run to take a commanding lead, but the Wildcats were able to recover and make it only a five-point game at halftime.

The Rebels opened the second half with another 10-0 run and led by as many as 17 points.

Once again the Wildcats were able to chip away at the lead, answering back with their own 9-0 run and eventually had the lead down to seven with under a minute left. It seemed, however, every time the Wildcats came knocking on the door, the Rebels had an answer and were always able to maintain a comfortable lead.

Kyle Bullinger led the Wildcats with a game-high 21 points and added four rebounds. He was 5 of 8 from 3-point range.

"He played really well tonight. He had a good look in his eye," said Head Coach Randy Rahe about is forward. "He's a dang good player and a tough competitor and I was really happy for him tonight."

Weber State was one of the top free throw shooting teams in the nation going into this game, but Thursday night proved to be a different story. The Wildcats missed nine of 22 shots from the charity stripe (59 percent).

"We got fouled, and we just didn't shoot the ball well from the free throw line. We've been shooting the ball really well from the free throw line and tonight for some reason we didn't shoot it well," said a disappointed Rahe, realizing those nine missed points were the difference in the game. "We just didn't make them tonight."

The Wildcats also struggled from the field, shooting just 36 percent- right on par with 39 percent the Rebels' defense was allowing.

UNLV had a season-high nine blocks.

"I thought that they hurried us. When we did get open looks, I thought we were rushed a little bit early in the game just because of the speed of the game," said Rahe. "We haven't seen this kind of athleticism and this pressure all year."

Point guard Damian Lillard, mired in a shooting slump, struggled again scoring a season-low eight points on 2-13 shooting. He did add four rebounds and four assists.

Shaw surprised the Wildcats with his 3-point shooting. For the season he had only hit three of 12 from behind the 3-point line, but Thursday night hit four of his six attempts.

"We didn't really see that coming. We knew he could shoot it from there; we knew he has shot it from there, but he hasn't been making them," said Rahe.

Oscar Bellfield also chipped in for the Rebels with ten points and a game high eight assists.

The Wildcats now prepare for the Basketball Traveler's Tournament in Logan beginning Monday, Dec. 21.

The Wildcats face Cal State Fullerton at 5:30 p.m., and then play Morehead State and Utah State the following two days.

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