New Mexico gets past SDSU and into MWC final
Las Vegas, NV – Tony Snell scored 17 points on 5-of-8 shooting from 3-point range as 15th-ranked New Mexico defeated San Diego State, 60-50, to advance to the final round of the Mountain West Conference Tournament.
Cameron Bairstow added 16 points and 11 rebounds and Alex Kirk scored 15 for the top-seeded Lobos (28-5), who will look to win the MWC Tournament for the second consecutive year.
New Mexico will face UNLV in the final on Saturday.
"We knew this was going to be a hard-fought game. San Diego State is a great basketball team. It's extremely well-coached with great players. Kind of the rubber match game," Lobos coach Steve Alford said. "They got us at their place, we got them at our place. We knew this was going to be a fight for 40 minutes. I just thought our guys did a lot of good things, especially on the defensive end for 40 minutes."
Chase Tapley and Xavier Thames scored 14 points apiece for the Aztecs (22-10), who shot just 31.3 percent (20-for-64) from the field.
San Diego State guard Jamaal Franklin, who averaged 17.0 points per game entering the contest, was held to just eight points on 3-of-12 shooting.
"We were beaten today by a really, really good team that can hurt you inside and outside," said SDSU coach Steve Fisher. "They did that to us tonight. They went inside to Bairstow and Kirk and effectively Snell got hot at three-point range, made back to back-to-back threes on us. Disappointed we didn't play better. Disappointed we didn't keep it closer. Proud of our effort and fight. We weren't quite good enough today."
Kendall Williams gave the Lobos a 14-9 lead after knocking down a trey at the 12:04 mark. The Aztecs, though, tied the game moments later on a Xavier Thames jumper.
Snell's triple at the 7:57 mark ignited a a 13-6 flurry for New Mexico, which took a 29-20 lead into the break.
The Lobos opened the second half on a 14-2 surge, with Snell burying three triples in a row to put New Mexico up 43-22, but SDSU cut it to 47-34 near the midway point of the second half.
Tapley's jumper with just over 4 1/2 minutes left made it a nine-point game, but after a layup from Kirk, the Aztecs couldn't get it under double-digits the rest of the way.
The top seed in the MWC Tournament hasn't won the championship in six years ... New Mexico has won eight of its last nine games ... SDSU scored 17 points off 10 New Mexico turnovers ... The Aztecs went to the free throw line only eight times (5-for-8).