‘Bower power’ gives UNLV a scare;BYU falls in seco

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    By ADAM WHITTEN

    UNLV’s Brian Keefe made consecutive second-half three-pointers to help the Rebels defeat the BYU men’s basketball team 76-63 at the Las Vegas Thomas N. Mack Center.

    The outcome of the game was decided during a four-minute span in the second-half when three of the Cougars starters fouled out of the game. Ron Selleaze, Bret Jepsen and Brian Dignan all were sent to the sidelines prematurely. For the game, the Cougars were whistled for 30 personal fouls.

    Selleaze finished with a double-double, 12 points, 12 rebounds. Danny Bower led the Cougars in scoring with 20 points. Bower made four of his 13 three-point attempts.

    The Rebels placed three starters in double figures, led by Keon Clark’s 21 points. Tyrone Nesby and Keefe added 20 and 19 points respectively. Keefe nailed five of seven from behind the three-point arc.

    The Cougars dropped to 6-12 overall, 1-3 in the WAC. UNLV improved to 9-7 overall, 2-2 in the WAC.

    “We just do not have the depth to survive three players fouling out of the game,” said Cougar coach Steve Cleveland in a post-game interview. “We’re not a real good offensive team. We have to have three players scoring 15-18 points to win on the road.”

    The Rebels shot 57.7 percent from the field in the second-half after making only eight of 23 field goals (34.8 percent) in the first-half. The Rebels’ hot shooting kept a tenacious Cougar team from pulling off the upset. This was the Cougars second consecutive game of shooting less than 30 percent (29.2 percent) from the field.

    With the Cougars clinging to a slim lead at 48-47, Keon Clark’s dunk and free-throw gave the Rebels a two-point lead with 8:25 remaining in regulation. The Cougars would never draw any closer the remainder of the game.

    “Bret (Jepsen) did a good job controlling Clark,” Bower said. “When he fouled out, that’s when Clark started to dominate the game.”

    BYU got its largest lead of the second-half at 44-40, but Brian Keefe’s two consecutive three-pointers gave the Rebels a two-point lead. This forced the Cougars out of their match-up zone. The zone allowed BYU to keep the game close by controlling the Rebels’ athletic frontline, Cleveland said

    The Cougars trailed only 30-28 at halftime. The first-half was marked by offensive spurts by both teams. BYU used an 11-0 run to take a 26-25 lead late into the first-half.

    UNLV blew a close game open in the first-half with a 10-point run to lead 19-10. The Cougars’ poor first-half shooting forced BYU to battle from behind for most of the opening 20 minutes. BYU hit only nine of 34 field goals.

    Two early fouls forced Selleaze to the bench in the opening minutes of the half, but Danny Bower’s running jumper ended a 7-0 Cougars’ run, putting BYU ahead 10-9 for the first time in the game.

    The Cougars next play in an important WAC game at Air Force Saturday. Tip-off is scheduled for 7:35 p.m. MST. The Falcons are one of the teams BYU is battling for a spot in the WAC Tournament. The game can be seen live on KSL-TV, Channel 5.

    “That game is so important,” Bower said. “We have to come out and play with a sense of urgency.”

    “We’ve got to play the best we’ve played in a month to beat this Air Force team (at Air Force),” Cleveland said.

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