No. 13 Aztecs Stopped by No. 14 UNLV 65-63
Feb. 11, 2012
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LAS VEGAS (AP) - Down by 13 points, Chase Tapley and No. 13 San Diego State rallied in the second half to take a lead.
They just couldn't hold on.
The Aztecs turned the ball over three times in the final 42 seconds and lost 65-63 to No. 14 UNLV on Saturday.
"We didn't seize our opportunities," said Tapley, who scored 16 points in the second half and finished with 22. "We had a chance to win and we came up short."
The loss means the Aztecs (20-4, 6-2 Mountain West) split their conference series with the Runnin' Rebels this year - each team earned a two-point win. The teams won't face each other again unless they meet in the conference tournament next month in Las Vegas.
"When you lose a game like this, you feel like a piece of your heart was ripped out," San Diego State coach Steve Fisher said.
Jamaal Franklin finished with 15 points for the Aztecs.
Mike Moser scored 19 points and made a key steal late that gave Rebels (22-4, 6-2) just enough defense to sneak past San Diego State.
Moser's steal and pass set up Anthony Marshall for the go-ahead layup. Tapley had made a 3-pointer to put San Diego State up by one point with less than two minutes to play.
"It was a good defender making a play," Fisher said. "It was guys that know how to play, guarding their tails off and making a play on us."
San Diego State didn't score again, despite several chances to tie or take the lead.
"In the last two minutes, we started guarding the way we're supposed to," said UNLV guard Justin Hawkins, who came up with a steal in the final second to stop the Aztecs.
"I think we showed we want to be Mountain West champions," he said.
Moser missed his first five shots of the game before finding his touch at the end of the first half, scoring nine points during a 15-4 run that put the Rebels up 37-29 at halftime.
UNLV's Bryce Massamba paced the Rebels at the start of the second half, scoring his team's first 10 points. But San Diego State's defense kept the Rebels scoreless over a four-minute stretch while Tapley brought his team back from an 11-point deficit.
"We had a chance to win, and we came up short," Tapley said.
UNLV's defense bailed out its poor shooting. UNLV shot less than 41 percent for the game, and made just one of 11 3-point attempts and one of five free throws during the second half.
Chace Stanback and Marshall - UNLV's second- and third-leading scorers coming into the game - combined for a total of four field goals and just one 3 in eight attempts.
"We let down a little bit and our shots weren't falling. We lost focus," said Oscar Bellfield, who finished with 15 points. "We just stuck together and closed it out."
UNLV coach Dave Rice said his team counts on defense when his players are doing well.
"The bottom line is we never quit playing," he said.
UNLV missed eight of its first 10 shots, but San Diego State was unable to extend its lead beyond 6 points less than six minutes into the game.
Xavier Thames hit a long 3 for the Aztecs as the half ended, but didn't release the ball in time to allow the basket to count.
Moser had nine rebounds, one shy of recording his 14th double-double of the year.