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UNLV rallies past Lobos into Mountain West semis

DENVER (AP) -- Jason Petrimoulx broke his left foot against New
Mexico a week ago and his replacement broke the Lobos' hearts
Thursday.

Ricky Morgan sank two free throws with 16 seconds left to cap a
comeback from a 13-point second-half deficit and give UNLV a 65-64
win over the Lobos in the Mountain West Conference quarterfinals.

"Ricky is a gamer," Rebels coach Lon Kruger said of his
stand-in point guard who played a grueling 38 minutes in which he
led a fullcourt press when he wasn't running the offense.

Morgan led the Rebels with 16 points after scoring 12 of his
team's first 16.

His two free throws at the end erased the last remnants of the
Rebels' 43-30 deficit with 16:16 left, a charge that was fueled by
a tenacious fullcourt press, New Mexico's poor free-throw shooting
and several close calls that went UNLV's way in the final few
minutes.

"We work on free throws every day in practice," Morgan said.
"Every time we get a little break, we're down there splitting it
up, red team and black team shooting free throws."

After a timeout, Lobos senior Jeff Hart, a former walk-on who
set a career high with five steals and tied a career high with 15
points on five 3-pointers, shot a hurried air ball from beyond the
arc.

"That was the last guy we expected to take it," said UNLV
swingman Curtis Terry. "We thought they would take it inside, but
with all of the confusion he was left open."

A wild scramble for the rebound ensued underneath the basket and
Lobos guard Kris Collins ended up with the ball at midcourt but his
desperation heave was way short as the buzzer sounded.

Collins ripped off his jersey in despair as the Lobos (17-13),
the defending conference tournament champion, saw its slim NCAA
hopes erased.

The Rebels (17-12) advanced to play top-seeded San Diego State
(22-8) in the semifinals Friday night at the Pepsi Center.

"I think we match up well with them," Rebels forward Louis
Amundson said. "It's going to be a good game for sure."

It will be hard-pressed to match the intensity and excitement of
this one.

New Mexico coach Ritchie McKay set up several options for the
Lobos' last possession during a timeout but the inside was flooded
with defenders and Hart got the ball when he came free on the right
wing.

"I ended up with it, had a pretty good look, missed it," Hart
said.

And the Lobos were left to lament their 5-of-12 performance at
the stripe.

"It would have been nice to knock a few down," Hart said.

After UNLV tied it at 62 on Wendell White's jumper with 2:06
remaining, Tony Dandridge (11 points) restored New Mexico's lead
with a 15-foot jumper. Amundson hit one of two free throws to pull
the Rebels to 64-63 with 1:12 remaining.

Dandridge was fouled with 24 seconds left but missed both free
throws and White grabbed the rebound for the Rebels. And Hart
fouled Morgan, whose two free throws gave the Rebels their first
lead since 4-3.

The Lobos had taken a 34-24 halftime lead despite foul trouble
from David Chiotti, their best post player. Hart sank a trio of
3-pointers in the final six minutes of the first half to give the
Lobos a double-digit cushion they maintained until the Rebels began
their charge with seven minutes left.

Chiotti finished with 6 points, half his average, in 20 minutes
and New Mexico's leading scorer, guard Mark Walters, was limited to
8 points, about half his usual output.

"It was hard when Chiotti's not in there," Walters said.
"He's in foul trouble most of the game. So, when he's not in
there, just inside all that attention that he usually draws, we're
missing that."

White scored 14 points, Amundson 11 and Adams 10 as the Rebels
avenged a 47-39 loss to the Lobos in Albuquerque on March 1 when
they shot a season-worst 24 percent, matched their lowest output in
the program's history and lost Petrimoulx.