LAS VEGAS - There was no magic in Boise State's black uniforms to ward off the sound of a referee's whistle Tuesday night in front of 15,295 fans at UNLV.
Back in black for a second straight game, the Broncos committed 22 fouls and saw their top two scorers foul out. Despite attempting 18 fewer free throws than the Rebels, the Broncos held a lead most of the game before UNLV responded with a late offensive push to take a 68-64 win, ending Boise State's four-game winning streak.
"It's frustrating because you are in front most of the way, you feel like you've outplayed them, but they get the W," Boise State guard Jeff Elorriaga said. "We've got to play 40 minutes against teams like UNLV, and hopefully we learn from this."
Unlike Saturday, when Boise State (20-9, 8-7 Mountain West) last wore its all-black getups in a 13-point win over Colorado State, there was no gargantuan second half for Derrick Marks - it wasn't even possible with the sophomore guard on the bench in foul trouble.
Marks, who had 33 points in the second half Saturday, had four fouls in the first 25 minutes against UNLV. Marks fouled out with 3 minutes, 23 seconds to play on a layup and free throw by Anthony Marshall that gave UNLV a 58-56 lead it kept the rest of the way. The Rebels (23-7, 10-5) led for a total of 4:27 in Tuesday's game.
Marks had four points and seven turnovers in 18 minutes.
"We showed our youth a little bit in the fouls we picked up - we picked up a few stupid fouls that put us in trouble," Boise State coach Leon Rice said. " to beat a team like that, Derrick needs to be a factor."
With Marks playing 8 second-half minutes, Boise State got Anthony Drmic and Elorriaga to keep the Broncos in the lead most of the final half. Drmic had 12 of the Broncos' first 15 points of the second half after the Rebels opened on an 8-0 run, getting Boise State up by as much as 10 with 9:17 remaining.
He fouled out with 1:02 to play, leaving with team-highs of 22 points and eight rebounds.
Elorriaga had 11 of his 19 points in the final 20 minutes, making three consecutive 3-pointers to give Boise State a 56-50 lead with 5:01 to play, but the Rebels scored 18 of the final 26 points.
"All year we've worked on executing late, and we frankly were pretty bad at that (Tuesday),'' said Drmic, who missed the front end of a 1-and-1 with 2:57 to go, down by two. "Not many people are winning at UNLV with 3 minutes left - we've got to finish.''
Boise State did not trail in the first half, taking a 32-25 lead into the locker room despite turning the ball over 10 times and giving up nine fouls.
The Broncos were kept alive with six 3-pointers in the first 20 minutes, while the Rebels were 1-of-7 from long range. They finished 4-of-16, but Katin Reinhardt made two in the last 4:04, including one with 14 seconds left that put the Rebels up 66-61 and prevented Boise State from getting a final shot to tie or win.
"We've got to make those types of plays," Elorriaga said. "We didn't get the stops."
While a win against the Rebels would have likely gone a long way to cementing an at-large NCAA Tournament bid, the Broncos are still very much in the hunt. They host San Diego State, No. 32 in the RPI rankings, Saturday afternoon at Taco Bell Arena. The game starts at 1:30 p.m.
"Oh, we're going to be fired up," Rice said. "There's not many games left, and they enjoy playing together. You can't fault anything they did (Tuesday). We'll be better having played this game."
NOTE: Elorriaga now has 80 3-point field goals this season, tied for the fourth-most in a single season in school history (Coby Karl, 2006-07), and 12 short of Abe Jackson's school record (92 in 2001-02).