This Mountain West title game lived up to the hype between San Diego State and New Mexico, and then some. The two teams split the regular season series, and a great game was highly anticipated.
Scoring was at a premium as the defense from each team played a strong brand of defense which led to a lot of poor shots and shot selections. A conversation for another day was the inconsistency of the officiating. It was evident since both teams were in the bonus with 12 minutes left in the half.
This game was electric for the full 40 minutes with huge steals, three-point shots and put back dunks; it is fitting that this game went down to the wire. The hero of the game was New Mexico's Kendall Williams who hit a deep three-point shot as the shot clock was expiring to give the Lobos a 62-57 lead with 27 seconds left in the game. Williams ended up with 16 points on 4 of 9 from the field, including a pair of three-point shots and made all six of his free throws.
On the prior position for San Diego State, Dwayne Polee drove and missed a potential game-tying layup. The Aztecs defense played well on the following possession, but Williams was clutch by attempting that deep three-point shot.
This Mountain West tournament win for the Lobos is their third straight win, and topping the Aztecs could put New Mexico off of the dreaded eight/nine seed line.
San Diego State started off the second half with a big run where they looked like they started to pull away, but New Mexico was able to hang around and keep pace and went on their own run late in the second half.
The Aztecs once again used a swarming defense that resulted in a Mountain West tournament record 11 steals, but the offense for San Diego State was not making buckets. San Diego State was taking poor shots as they shot just 36 percent from the field, and credit also goes to New Mexico's defense who played well in their half court defensive set.
For San Diego State, their offense does not live up to what their defense can provide and that was the problem Saturday afternoon. Free throw shooting was an issue as the Aztecs made just 13 of 22, and compare that to New Mexico who went 22 of 27. The Aztecs were not as aggressive enough in getting to the line and the only reason they were able to get to the line 22 times is because the officials had a quick whistle. San Diego State was in the bonus at the 16:12 mark in the second half.
It all came down to New Mexico shooting better at the foul line down the stretch and also that the Lobos were able to go on a run at the end of the game, whereas the Aztecs had their run earlier in the game.
Leading scorer for San Diego State was Xavier Thames who scored 15 points but on 6 of 16 shooting, and Winston Shepard chipped in with 13 but he was only 4 of 15 shooting from the field.