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New Mexico vs San Diego State

New Mexico tops San Diego State, wins MWC title

CBSSports.com wire reports
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LAS VEGAS -- New Mexico won the Mountain West Conference tournament the last two seasons, and the Lobos weren't prepared to let the title go.

Trailing by one with a little more than a minute left, Cameron Bairstow scored five of the Lobos' last eight points to help 20th-ranked New Mexico win its third consecutive tournament title, with a 64-58 victory over No. 8 San Diego State in Saturday's championship game.

Bairstow finished with 17 points, and the victory gives the Lobos the automatic berth into the NCAA tournament. The 6-foot-9 senior forward was named tournament MVP after averaging 20.3 points per game and 9.0 rebounds per game.

''In the regular season San Diego State was the best team,'' Bairstow said. ''I think in this tournament, we were the best team. [The MVP trophy] could have gone to a number of players, the guys sitting next to me. It wasn't about proving a point. You just got to understand it's all about team success. That's what it is. All the accolades that come off that are a bonus. At the end of the day it's all based on team success.''

The No. 2 seed in the Mountain West tournament is now 6-0 all-time when playing the No. 1 seed.

''I got terrific kids, a terrific team that's believed in me, taking over a team that won back to back regular season and tournament championships,'' said first-year New Mexico coach Craig Neal. ''This is our third one. It's very special to me.''

It didn't come easy against the conference's No. 1 defense, as New Mexico (27-6) had its five-point halftime lead disappear when the Aztecs opened the second half on an 8-0 run, to take a 30-27 lead.

Trailing 56-49 with 2:34 left in the game, the Aztecs went on an 8-0 run to go up one with 1:21 remaining. The run was culminated when Winston Shepard stole an inbounds pass, dished to Dwayne Polee II for a slam dunk. Polee was fouled and converted the three-point play.

With momentum seemingly shifted, Bairstow took over, driving on Josh Adams for a lay-in while drawing the foul. Bairstow converted the three-point play to give the Lobos the lead again. Polee's layup attempt at the other end didn't fall, Bairstow rebounded with 51 seconds left and Kendall Williams made a 3-pointer 30 seconds later to seal the win.

Williams added 16 points for the Lobos and moved up to No. 5 all-time on New Mexico's career scoring list with 1,794 points, while Greenwood had 12.

''I think the timing of it was more fortunate for us this time,'' Williams said. ''Last game they timed it just right and we didn't have an answer for it. This time they punched us in the mouth to start [the second half], and we were able to respond throughout the half. That was the big difference.''

After shooting 34.8 percent (8 of 23) from the field in the first half, the Lobos were 10 of 21 from the floor in the second half, including 4 of 9 from long-range. And despite having one of the more formidable frontcourts in the nation, led by Bairstow, San Diego State outscored the Lobos in the paint, 24-18. The Aztecs also outscored New Mexico off turnovers, 21-8, and with bench points, 16-4.

In a game that featured 10 ties and 12 lead changes, New Mexico's seven point advantage at the 2:34 mark was the largest lead of the game.

''This was a tremendously hard fought game between two very good basketball teams,'' San Diego State coach Steve Fisher said. ''We're disappointed that we didn't get the opportunity to cut the nets down. But we're proud of what we've done and how we've done it.

''We competed from wire to wire, and we just didn't quite have enough to finish. But if we continue to play that way, we'll have a chance to be playing after the first weekend of the NCAA tournament. That's our goal now.''

San Diego State (29-4) got a team-high 15 points from Xavier Thames, the league's regular-season player of the year. Thames also had three assists while once again committing just one turnover. For the tournament, Thames had 16 assists versus a mere three turnovers.

Joining Bairstow, Williams, Polee, and Thames on the 2014 all-tournament team was New Mexico's Alex Kirk.

Copyright 2014 by STATS LLC. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC is strictly prohibited.
 
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Kendall Williams and the Lobos celebrate winning an automatic berth in the NCAA Tournament after ousting No. 8 SDSU. (USATSI)
Kendall Williams and the Lobos celebrate winning an automatic berth in the NCAA Tournament after ousting No. 8 SDSU. (USATSI)

 
Scoreboard
New Mexico #20 (27-6) «273764
San Diego State #8 (29-4)223658
NMEX:C. Bairstow 17 Pts
NMEX:A. Kirk 11 Reb
NMEX:H. Greenwood 5 Ast
SDGST:X. Thames 15 Pts
SDGST:S. Spencer 10 Reb
SDGST:X. Thames 3 Ast
 
PLAYERS OF THE GAME
New MexicoSan Diego State
NMEX
Cameron Bairstow
SDGST
Xavier Thames
PtsRebsAstPtsRebsAst
17911523
New Mexico Lobos
A. Kirk, C384-60-011028
H. Greenwood, G383-104-445312
C. Bairstow, F373-811-1491417
K. Williams, G374-96-633116
D. Delaney, G253-50-25137
C. Neal, G131-51-11034
C. Thomas, G70-10-01110
M. Lindsay, F50-00-01010
C. Perez, GDid Not Play
N. Banyard, FDid Not Play
D. Williams, G-FDid Not Play
O. Aget, CDid Not Play
A. Edwards, GDid Not Play
T. Myles, FDid Not Play
Totals 18-4422-2735111864
 40.9%81.5% 
San Diego State Aztecs
J. Davis, F370-30-06030
W. Shepard, F354-155-872013
X. Thames, G326-161-223515
S. Spencer, F273-60-010046
J. O'Brien, F252-44-93048
D. Polee II, F275-91-120214
M. Shrigley, F100-22-20032
A. Quinn, G70-10-00020
J. Johnson, FDid Not Play
A. Chol, FDid Not Play
R. Staten, GDid Not Play
P. U'u, GDid Not Play
D. Allen, GDid Not Play
D. Williams, GDid Not Play
K. Woldemichael, GDid Not Play
D. Maxwell, GDid Not Play
N. Federico, FDid Not Play
Totals 20-5613-223052358
 35.7%59.1% 
Mountain West
TeamConf. W-LTot. W-L
San Diego St16-231-5
New Mexico15-327-7
UNLV10-820-13
Nevada10-815-17
Boise St.9-921-13
Wyoming9-918-15
Fresno St.9-921-18
Utah St.7-1118-14
Colorado St.7-1116-16
Air Force6-1212-18
San Jose St.1-177-24
 
Other games
PITT 48 Final
UVA 51
TENN 49 Final
FLA 56
OHIOST 69 Final
MICH 72
NCST 67 Final
DUKE 75
GW 55 Final
VCU 74
MIST 83 Final
WISC 75
UCONN 61 Final
LOU 71
UCLA 75 Final
ARIZ 71
PROV 65 Final
CREIGH 58
BAYLOR 65 Final
IOWAST 74