No. 18 UNLV edged UCSB after two overtimes on Wednesday night, holding out for their eighth victory without a loss in a 94-88 decision in the Thunderdome.
Orlando Johnson poured in 36 points and collected 10 rebounds while his counterpart, UNLV’s Mike Moser, tallied 34 points and pulled down 10 rebounds.
The Gauchos were trailing by 10 points near the end of regulation before a furious rally pulled UCSB even as the buzzer sounded. Down by three points, Johnson was fouled with less than 2 seconds on the clock. After making the first, Johnson intentionally missed the second and Greg Somogyi was able to grab the rebound and convert the putback to tie.
In the first overtime, UCSB was in position to win with a late 3-point lead. But Chace Stanback nailed a near-impossible 3-pointer to force another overtime.
“We felt like we snuck into the overtime with kind of a miracle play,” said UCSB head coach Bob Williams. “Then they snuck into the second one with a very fortunate play. It would have been awful nice at the end of that first overtime to find a way.”
UNLV took control there, outscoring UCSB 10-4 in the second overtime for the triumph.
“I think this will go down as one of the all-time great games between UNLV and UCSB,” Johnson said after the game.
UNLV coach Dave Rice agreed.
“It was a terrific college basketball game,” Rice said. “We knew we were going to have a bulls-eye on our back for being ranked and the rivalry.”
With his 36 points, Johnson surpassed Scott Fisher on the all-time UCSB scoring list and now sits at No. 9 with 1,357 points. Johnson also recorded his third double-double of the season and is averaging 23.8 ppg through six games. The senior was three points away from his career high, set last season against UC Davis.
UCSB freshman point guard T.J. Taylor did record a career high with 10 points.
The Gauchos looked to be in trouble in regulation. UNLV trailed at halftime but started the second half with a 13-6 run. From there, UNLV never trailed in the second half.
UCSB had closed the gap to two points at 59-57 on two Jaime Serna free throws. UNLV responded with 10-of-the-next-12 points to take the biggest lead of the game at 69-59.
That was with 2:03 on the clock and some of the 5,516 in attendance started to leave.
Yet UCSB clawed back, starting with a Jaime Serna layup on which he was fouled. Serna missed the freebie and the Gauchos were still down 69-61 as the clock dropped past a minute remaining.
Johnson scored UCSB’s next basket with 47 seconds left and UNLV gave the ball back to UCSB after Oscar Bellfield missed the front end of his 1-and-1. Johnson was fouled on the next play and his two free throws suddenly made it 69-65.
Johnson came through again after a defensive stop by the Gauchos, this time converting a 3-point play. Now the lead was trimmed to 69-68 but Stanback made two free throws to put Vegas up three.
With only seven seconds to tie it, the Rebels opted to foul Johnson before he could attempt a game-tying 3-pointer. After the first was made, Somogyi brought the Gaucho crowd to a frenzy and overtime.