New Mexico ends Utah State's dream at MWC Tournament

  • New Mexico ends Utah State's dream at MWC Tournament

New Mexico ends Utah State's dream at MWC Tournament

For the first ten minutes of the game, it looked like Utah State would be able to pull off its third straight win at the Mountain West Tournament, as they led New Mexico by eight points.

Playing in a record 10th Mountain West tournament championship game, the Aztecs weren't ready to concede.

BC-BKC-MWC-San Diego State-New Mexico, 2nd Ld-Writethru, 793 San Diego State wins Mountain West title, earns NCAA berthAP Photo NVLB107, NVLB112, NVLB111, NVLB108Eds: San Diego State 82, New Mexico 75. The Aztecs (22-10) earn the league's automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.

The Aztecs victory came on the strength of tournament MVP Trey Kell's career-high 28 points.

Since losing six of eight in January and February, San Diego State is riding a nine-game win streak into the Big Dance, its longest since winning 11 in a row during the 2015 season. They bounced back to post a 12-6 record in Mountain West play, and almost punched the program's first ticket to the Big Dance since 2014.

The victor of this game will also have the most conference tournament wins total with five championships. Not sure if they can do that vs. San Diego State but it will be interesting to see.

The lead grew to as many as 23 in the second half for the Lobos, who hit 12-of-15 free throws in the second half to ice the game despite the Aggies making several modest runs, cutting the deficit back to single digits (77-68) with under 2 minutes left in the game on a Koby McEwen bucket with 1:50 left in the game. "And we didn't make shots". "I thought (Sam) Logwood and (Joe) Furstinger were very good and manhandled us a little bit in there, so when we made a couple of mini runs in the second half we could never make them stand up because those guys always came through and stemmed the tide".

"They deserve to win the championship, and they did", said New Mexico coach Paul Weir, also in his first year with the program. "And you have to give San Diego State credit for that". But after taking a five-point lead midway through the first half, the Aggies fell apart amid the Lobos pressure as New Mexico went on a 19-0 run late in the first half and took a 37-25 lead into halftime on a 20-3 run for a 37-25 lead. New Mexico was eliminated in its first game each of the past three seasons.