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No. 21 UNLV beats Northern Iowa 73-59

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No. 21 UNLV beats Northern Iowa 73-59

LAS VEGAS (AP) Anthony Bennett had 20 points and 12 rebounds to lead No. 21 UNLV to a 73-59 victory over Northern Iowa 73-59 on Wednesday night in the Mountain West-Missouri Valley Challenge.

Bennett, who had three blocks, was 7 of 12 from the field, including hitting two 3-pointers, and all four free throws.

Khem Birch added 11 points and nine rebounds in his second game of eligibility for the Runnin' Rebels, who have won eight straight. They struggled at times in the second half after leading 43-22 at intermission.

Marc Sonnen had 15 points and Anthony Jones added 13 for Northern Iowa (6-6), which is 0-3 against Top 25 opponents this season. The Panthers were held to 33 percent shooting from the field.

UNLV returned to the Thomas & Mack Center after being away for 18 days due to the National Finals Rodeo. The Rebels went 4-0 during that span, winning three road games - two barely - and an easy home game from away from home at the Orleans Arena.

Anthony Marshall had nine points and three rebounds for the Rebels, who escaped two nights earlier with a 62-60 win at UTEP.

Jake Koch had 11 points and eight rebounds for the Panthers.

UNLV jumped to leads of 16-4 and 21-8 in the first 10 minutes of the game.

Bennett scored 14 points with eight rebounds in the first half, including nine points in the last 5:30. UNLV shot 49 percent in the first half, while Northern Iowa was at 30 percent. The Rebels converted 6 of 12 from 3-point range in the first half.

After the Rebels built their largest lead at 24 points early in the second half, the Panthers slowly chipped away, cutting the lead to 62-49 with 5:55 left, but got no closer.

The Rebels outscored the Panthers 28-16 in the paint and 24-15 off the bench.

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3 reasons the Caps beat the Sabres

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USA TODAY Sports

3 reasons the Caps beat the Sabres

The Caps could not shake Buffalo for two periods, but a dominant finish on Saturday helped them pull away for a 5-1 win. Here's how they finally put away the Sabres.​

A quick start

Strong stars go a long way towards helping a team in the middle of a slump. It's a confidence boost for a team in desperate need of one and the Caps got that boost on Saturday from Evgeny Kuznetsov. Kuznetsov used his wheels to zip in behind the defense and score just 50 seconds into the game. Washington led 1-0 at the end of the first, just the second time in 19 games they have held a lead after the first.

Andre Burakovsky snapping second period slump

It looked in the second period like the Caps were caught trying to protect the lead again, but Andre Burakovsky woke the team back up with his incredible highlight end-to-end goal. It really looked like Buffalo was going to tie the game at one, but instead, Burakovsky extended the lead to two. Going end to end the way he did shows a player who is starting to play with some confidence, something Burakovsky has lacked at points this season.

Ovechkin's two-goal third period

Buffalo just would not go away. Sam Reinhart got the Sabres on the board just 14 seconds into the third period and suddenly the Caps found themselves in a one-goal game again. But Ovechkin ended any hopes for the comeback as he struck in the top corner of the net on the power play form the office. He would later add a deflection goal late to extend the lead to 5-1, giving a scuffling Washington team the dominant win they so sorely needed.

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3 stars of the game: Caps erupt in 3rd for dominant win over Sabres

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USA TODAY Sports

3 stars of the game: Caps erupt in 3rd for dominant win over Sabres

The Capitals needed a win in the worst way and they got one, dispatching the Buffalo Sabres in dominating fashion with a 5-1 win.

Washington was locked in a tight game leading 2-0 heading into the third period when Sam Reinhart scored just 14 seconds into the period. The Caps then slammed the door shut, scoring three unanswered goals to put away the Sabres.

Here are the three stars of the game.

1. Alex Ovechkin: This was career game No. 893 for Ovechkin, tying him for the franchise record for most games played with Calle Johansson. Ovechkin very fittingly celebrated the occasion with two goals. The first was a power play goal from the office. No need for a one-timer on this one, as the Sabres gave him all the time he needed to aim up the shot and wrist it into the top corner. He added a late 

2. Evgeny Kuznetsov: To say the Caps have struggled at the start of games would be an understatement. In the last 18 games, Washington has held the lead after the first period only once. Kuznetsov made sure this game started off on the right foot as he scored just 50 seconds into the game. He turned on the jets in the neutral zone to turn the edge on Jason Pominville then easily skated around a weak, ill-advised challenge from Robin Lehner before flinging the puck into the yawning net. It was the fastest goal to start a game by the Caps this season. It was just the start of what would be a four-point night for the Caps' center as he added three assists.

3. Andre Burakovsky: Burakovsky had the highlight of the game with his end-to-end goal in the second period to put Washington up 2-0. He looked like he was shot out of a cannon as he launched himself from the defensive zone, streaked down the center of the ice and in on net to slide the puck through the Lehner's five-hole. Look how Burakovsky was able to slice through the Sabres' defense. Buffalo had him surrounded, but could not slow him down at all.