LAS VEGAS — Things were not looking good to begin the game for UNLV against Wyoming.
The Cowboys scored the game’s first eight points and Rebels coach Dave Rice sat freshman sensation Anthony Bennett six minutes into the game. By the time Bennett got back in six minutes later, the Rebels had a solid lead.
Bennett regained form and scored a game-high 17 points to lead UNLV past Wyoming 62-50 on Thursday night.
“Not the start we wanted,” Rice said. “League games are a new experience. Wyoming is patient and plays extremely hard. It’s so hard to practice to prepare for a team holding the ball that long. It starts with defense. We settled down. We guarded them. It was a matter of finding guys (on defense).”
Quintrell Thomas added 13 points for UNLV (16-4, 3-2 Mountain West) while Anthony Marshall scored 12 points and had nine assists as the Rebels shot 49 percent from the field and were 7 of 15 from 3-point range.
“One good thing, we have a lot of people that can contribute,” Thomas said. “We have a lot of good players. Teams have to prepare for a lot of different guys. I take pride in not letting my man score.”
Larry Nance Jr. led Wyoming (15-3, 2-3) with 16 points on 7-of-10 shooting from the field, but had only two second-half points. He finished with five steals.
Leonard Washington added 13 points, seven rebounds, and four blocks for the Cowboys, which lost their 11th straight to UNLV at the Thomas & Mack Center.
“Both are great players,” Bennett said. “We did a good job on them defensively. I’m just going to go out there and grow as a player. It’s way more physical in the Mountain West (than in non-conference).”
Wyoming was a dismal 3 of 16 from beyond the arc and were out-rebounded 34-20.
“Their size had an effect on us,” said Wyoming coach Larry Shyatt, whose team was coming off a win knocking off then No. 15 San Diego State in Laramie, Wyo. on Saturday. “Can’t fault our shot selection. Credit size and speed to them. Our guys hung in there when we needed to. At times, we got antsy. We took a couple of threes we rushed.”
After the Cowboys scored the first eight points, the Rebels eventually grabbed the lead at 15-12 and later at 18-15 when Bennett came back in. UNLV, which never trailed again, led 29-25 halftime. Nance was 6 of 8 with three steals in the half.
UNLV also turned the ball over 15 times to Wyoming’s seven.
Leading 35-31 early in the second half, UNLV went on a 12-2 run capped by Katin Reinhardt’s 3-pointer from the right corner with 12:03 to go.
The Rebels led by as many as 18 in the second half. Thomas also had 11 second-half points.
“Quintrell Thomas speaks to his character,” Rice said. “He was big for us defensively.”
The Rebels opened conference play with three of four on the road. They have the weekend off and host in-state rival Nevada on Tuesday.
Wyoming women 76, UNLV 54
LARAMIE — Sophomore Kayla Woodward scored 23 points as Wyoming handily defeated UNLV 76-54 on Wednesday night in Laramie.
The Cowgirls (14-4 overall, 3-2 Mountain West) had three players scoring in double figures. Chaundra Sewell added 16 points and seven rebounds, and Ashley Sickles 10 points and six boards.
Wyoming shot 42 percent from the field and out rebounded the Lady Rebels, 42-37. They also had 38 points in the paint and 24 points off turnovers.
The Lady Rebels (6-13 overall, 2-3 MW) were led by Kelli Thompson’s 18 points.
Cowgirls coach Joe Legerski noted his team kept turnovers down which resulted in more opportunities for possessions.
The Cowgirls are on the road for the next two games. They will take on Air Force Saturday and New Mexico next Wednesday.