UNLV got timely scoring from Bryce Hamilton, strong defense from the entire team and a clutch free throw from Victor Iwuakor to earn a hard-fought Fresno State, 60-57.
The Scarlet and Gray closed out the game on the defensive end, holding Fresno State without a field goal for the final 4:00. Hamilton’s pull-up 3-pointer with 2:16 remaining broke a 54-54 tie and was the last bucket scored by either team.
Hamilton battled through a rough shooting night and finished with 17 points on 6-of-20 from the field. Royce Hamm posted 12 points and five rebounds, while David Muoka had two points, eight rebounds and two blocks.
With UNLV nursing a 57-54 lead with 14 seconds left, Iwaukor grabbed an offensive rebound, got fouled and made 1-of-2 from the line to make it a two-possession game. Fresno State raced down the court, but Iwuakor blocked an Isaiah Hill layup attempt to seal the win.
UNLV is now 15-11 on the season and 7-6 in Mountain West play with Colorado State coming to the Thomas & Mack Center on Saturday.
UNLV leads Fresno State with four minutes to play
UNLV is trying to hang on to a 54-50 lead with 4:00 to play.
Offense has been very difficult over the last seven minutes, as Fresno State has committed its entire defense to walling off Bryce Hamilton. With Hamilton in check, Victor Iwuakor has stepped up to score UNLV’s only two field goals since the 11-minute mark. The junior power forward scored one via a putback, and he just finished off a transition push with a layup while drawing a foul; he made the ensuing free throw to complete the three-point play.
Fresno State big man Orlando Robinson has four fouls, which has forced him to the bench intermittently down the stretch.
UNLV will continue to run its offense through Hamilton and hope the senior can come through in the face of Fresno’s defensive assault.
UNLV leads at Fresno State, 49-44
Royce Hamm and Bryce Hamilton continue to carry UNLV, and with 11:14 remaining the Scarlet and Gray have a 49-44 lead.
Hamm just made his presence felt on the defensive end, swatting a shot that led directly to a transition opportunity for UNLV. Hamilton cashed in with a short bank shot and now he and Hamm both have 12 points on the night.
This is UNLV’s biggest lead of the second half.
UNLV leads Fresno State at half
A late 16-0 run has vaulted UNLV back into this game, and the Scarlet and Gray will head into the locker room with a 33-31 lead at the half.
Royce Hamm and Bryce Hamilton carried the offense during the run, and Mike Nuga provided a nice coda by knocking down a 3-pointer in the final minute of the half. Hamm has a game-high 10 points, while Hamilton has eight and Nuga has five.
Aside from getting hot from 3-point range late in the half, it has been an offensive struggle for Kevin Kruger’s squad. But perhaps more importantly, the Scarlet and Gray have done a good job of containing Fresno State big man Orlando Robinson, holding him to six points on 3-of-11 shooting. After fouling Robinson 11 times in the first matchup this season, UNLV has played disciplined defense, limiting him to zero free throws so far.
Can UNLV put together 20 minutes of consistent offense while continuing to make Robinson work for his points? If they can do that, they may just leave Fresno with a win.
Hamm, Hamilton heating up at Fresno State
UNLV is finally getting some shots to drop, and with 3:45 left in the first half the Scarlet and Gray have pulled within 25-23 at Fresno State.
An ugly five-minute scoring drought allowed Fresno State to jump out to a 25-12 lead, but back-to-back-to-back 3-pointers from Royce Hamm, Bryce Hamilton and Hamm again powered a quick 11-0 run for the road team. UNLV is now 5-of-11 from 3-point range; Hamm is leading the way with 10 points.
Fresno State has cooled off after a quick start. UNLV has held them scoreless for the last three minutes, and Hamilton and Hamm have combined to grab the last four defensive rebounds.
Donovan Williams checked in around the 12-minute mark and knocked down a mid-range jumper, so he’s officially back.
Fresno State takes early lead over UNLV
Bryce Hamilton is off to a slow start and therefore so is UNLV. With 11:06 left in the first half Fresno State has opened a 14-8 lead on its home court.
Hamilton has connected on just one of his first five shots and has only three points. As a team UNLV has only three field goals (3-of-13).
On the other end of the court, Junior Ballard and Anthony Holland just nailed back to back 3-pointers to put Fresno State ahead. Orlando Robinson has been kept in check so far with four points on 2-of-8 from the field.
Donovan Williams has yet to check in for the Scarlet and Gray. The junior forward went through pregame warmups and appeared ready to play tonight; we’ll have to see if he subs in during this stoppage.
Bryce Hamilton leads UNLV at Fresno State
Despite falling at Boise State on Friday, UNLV is gaining momentum heading into the final weeks of the season. Kevin Kruger currently has the Scarlet and Gray at 14-11 on the season and 6-6 in the Mountain West, and they have cracked the Top 100 in the KenPom ratings for the first time this year, checking in at No. 97.
UNLV has a chance to climb higher after Wednesday’s showdown at Fresno State, as the Bulldogs are No. 51 in KenPom and 16-8 overall (6-5 MWC).
Scoring: Bryce Hamilton, 21.4 points
Rebounding: Royce Hamm, 9.5 rebounds
Assists: Jordan McCabe, 5.0 assists
Fresno State leaders
Scoring: Orlando Robinson, 18.9 points
Rebounding: Orlando Robinson, 8.3 rebounds
Assists: Isaiah Hill, 2.8 assists
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