Sunday, Jan. 29, 2012 | 12:25 a.m.
- Mike Moser leads UNLV to its second consecutive overtime victory, 65-63 at Air Force
- BOX SCORE: UNLV 65, Air Force 63
- Blog: Mike Moser’s 27 points, key stop from Chace Stanback gives UNLV 65-63 OT victory
- Brice Massamba’s interior play may be crucial for UNLV against Air Force
- UNLV’s Mike Moser shakes off illness to carry Rebels to OT victory at Boise State
- UNLV notes: Carlos Lopez will be reevaluated for a sprained ankle
- 2011-12 UNLV Men's Basketball Schedule
- All UNLV Men's Basketball Coverage
AIR FORCE ACADEMY, Colo. — UNLV senior small forward Chace Stanback salvaged one of his worst offensive performances of the year with the steal that clinched the Rebels’ 65-63 victory at Air Force in overtime.
UNLV’s leading scorer tied a season-low with two points on 1-for-10 shooting. Just two possessions earlier, he had a chance to put the Rebels up by four but got rejected at the rim on a layup attempt.
Nothing he did seemed to go right, yet Stanback still found a way to reward his teammates for picking up the slack for him on offense.
“I owed them that,” Stanback said.
Air Force started its final possession with 7.6 seconds left on the clock. Soon after the in-bounds pass, the Falcon ball-carrier started driving to the paint, which drew Stanback in a step from the wing.
The key to the play was that while Stanback faded toward help-side defense, he didn’t get sucked in. When the ball kicked out toward Kamryn Williams, Stanback was still in the passing lane and easily snatched it well before Williams could get his hands on it for a potential game-winning 3-pointer.
The game had been pure frustration for Stanback up until that point, but he never got down. He didn’t hang his head. He kept playing.
“When you’re not knocking shots down, you want to try to do something on the defensive end, or try to get rebounds, or create shots for other teammates,” Stanback said. “It’s all about, ‘What else can you do?’ ”
Considering he isn’t known for his defense, it’s possible Stanback wouldn’t have even been on the court for that final possession if it weren’t for a couple of outside factors.
The Rebels primarily use seven players, with three more — Quintrell Thomas, Kendall Wallace and Reggie Smith — getting varying minutes game-to-game. One of those seven, sophomore forward Carlos Lopez, didn’t play because of a sprained ankle that he suffered in Wednesday’s game at Boise State. And another, senior center Brice Massamba, fouled out with about two minutes to play in regulation.
That left Rice with five regulars, and instead of bringing in Thomas to the post, he used Stanback, 6-foot-8, as the pseudo-center.
“I like to have Chace on the court just because of all the things he brings in terms of his leadership,” Rice said. “With Brice out of the game, we needed to have someone in the low post.”
In the seven minutes after Massamba left the game, Stanback missed two shots, but he also had two assists and three steals, including the game-winner.
In every way but shooting, Saturday was one of Stanback’s best games of the season. That’s why it’s so important the Rebels support each other when a teammates is struggling.
“We told him to keep his confidence and that we needed him to win,” senior guard Oscar Bellfield said.
They did, and they did.