Runnin’ Rebels sink their free throws and Titans, 77-68

The season is still only three games old but UNLV appears to have already mastered a very important trait … free throw shooting.

The Runnin’ Rebels, who were 13-of-13 from the line in the second half of Wednesday night’s 74-62 victory over UC Riverside, once again were nails in crunch time during a 77-68 win over Cal State Fullerton on Saturday night at the Thomas & Mack Center.

UNLV (2-1) shot 81.3 percent from the line (26-of-32) and made its last nine in a row over the final 2:57 to hold off the Titans (2-2).

Guard Jovan Mooring, one of five Rebels to finish in double figures, made 10 of his 11 free throw tries while scoring 12 straight points over a key four-minute stretch that saw UNLV build its lead to nine points, 63-54.

Cal State Fullerton got as close as four points, 71-67, on a 3-pointer by freshman Davon Clare with 35 seconds left, but Rebel point guard Jalen Poyser (4-of-4) and forward Dwayne Morgan (2-of-2) were perfect at the line to close out the win.

It was the 200th coaching victory for first-year UNLV head coach Marvin Menzies in just his 10th season as a Division I head coach. Menzies is now 200-112 in his coaching career.

HOW IT HAPPENED: With the game tied, 46-46, senior forward Uce Ofoegbu hit a desperation beat-the-shot-clock 3-pointer – one of three for the Rebels in the game – to put UNLV ahead to stay. The Rebels managed just four more field goals over the final nine minutes but thrived at the free throw line sinking 19 of their final 21 attempts.

WHO STOOD OUT: Poyser led the Rebels with 14 points, including a pair of buzzer-beating 3-pointers, and also had three assists and just one turnover. He also did a solid job defensively part of the game on Cal State Fullerton guard Tre’ Coggins who finished with 17 points on just 6-of-18 shooting. Morgan, in just his second game back from a hip injury, finished with seven points, eight rebounds and two steals in 21 minutes of action.

QUOTES TO NOTE:“Before every game we have two separate groups that compete against each other at the free throw line and no one wants to lose so you better make your free throws. (The losers) have to run like crazy. … Definitely (think it carries over into games.)” – UNLV guard Jovan Mooring.

“It’s just not me. It’s your staff, it’s your players, your whole family. I get the credit if for it.” – Menzies on his picking up his 200th coaching win.

UP NEXT:The Runnin’ Rebels return to action Tuesday night when they host Northern Arizona at 7 p.m. at the Thomas & Mack Center.

NOTABLE: UNLV is shooting 79.5 percent at the free throw line this season which ranks 19th in the nation. The Runnin’ Rebels have outscored their first three opponents by an average of 22 to 12 at the free throw line. … Senior guard Lionheart Leslie, listed at 5-foot-10 on the roster sheet, scored a game-high 21 points and grabbed a game-high 10 rebounds for Cal State Fullerton. … The Rebels forced 17 turnovers and finished with a 14-6 edge in points off turnovers. … Cal State Fullerton outrebounded UNLV, 40-27, as the Rebels managed just two offensive rebounds and two second chance points. … The Titans, who once again hurt the Rebels with drives to the basket, finished with just seven assists on 23 made field goals.

Click on the graphic below for final stats:

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