Dec. 31, 2008
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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) -- Oscar Bellfield hit an acrobatic layup with 16.1 seconds remaining to lift UNLV to a stunning 56-55 win over No. 18 Louisville on Wednesday.
Bellfield beat Louisville center Samardo Samuels to the basket and banked the ball over the outstretched hands of the 6-foot-9 Samuels to give the Runnin' Rebels the lead. Louisville's Terrence Williams missed a layup with three seconds remaining and UNLV grabbed the rebound to hold on.
Rene Rougeau led UNLV (12-2) with 17 points and seven rebounds and Tre'Von Willis added 16 points as the Runnin' Rebels won their seventh straight despite playing without leading scorer Wink Adams, who missed the game with a strained abdominal muscle.
Preston Knowles led the Cardinals (8-3) with 11 points and Samuels and Earl Clark both had 10 points and seven boards but Louisville shot just 30 percent from the floor to lose for the second time in three games.
The Runnin' Rebels led throughout before Louisville rallied and took a 55-53 lead on a pair of free throws by Williams with 1:44 to go. Willis hit a free throw to bring UNLV back within one with 1:17 to play and then forced Louisville's Andre McGee to give the ball away.
Bellfield got a pick just past halfcourt, matching him up with the bigger-- but slower--Samuels. Bellfield hesitated for just a moment then sliced to the basket before laying it in.
The Cardinals hustled to midcourt and called timeout and Louisville drew up a play for Williams. The senior caught the ball at the top of the key and tried to drive to his right. He got to the rim but his layup attempt missed badly.
Louisville seemed to be so shocked by the miss nobody bothered to foul as time ran out and the UNLV bench stormed onto the court at Freedom Hall in celebration.
Adams was among the gleeful, though UNLV hardly needed its senior leader thanks to a suffocating defense that collapsed on Samuels and frustrated the Cardinals all night.
The Runnin' Rebels blitzed Louisville early, racing to the lead as the Cardinals seemed mystified by UNLV's dribble-drive offense.
The Cardinals missed their first 11 shots, and even their first make was dubious thanks to a generous goaltending call on UNLV. By the time Louisville finally put the ball through the cylinder on a 3-pointer by Preston Knowles, they trailed 22-10.
UNLV kept the lead around double-digits until midway through the second half, when Louisville's defense clamped down and held the Runnin' Rebels without a field goal for nine minutes.
The Cardinals took their first lead at 48-47 on a pair of free throws by Williams with 4:31 left, but Willis ended UNLV's dry spell with a 3-pointer a minute later to put the Runnin' Rebels up 51-50.
Rougeau hit a lay-up to push the lead to 53-50 before McGee hit a 3-pointer for Louisville to tie it with 2:03 left, eventually leading to Bellfield's heroics.
The loss sends the Cardinals reeling into their annual showdown with archrival Kentucky and continues their free fall from the first five. Louisville was ranked No. 3 in November but heads into the New Year searching for answers.