In a game that saw multiple lead changes, momentum shifts, an UnGodly amount of fouls and turnovers, and inconsistent refereeing going both ways, it was the Utah State Aggies who outlasted the New Mexico Lobos, 91-83, on Thursday night to earn a spot in the Mountain West Tournament Semifinals.
Utah State survived, despite having 24 turnovers, and falling behind by eight at one point in the second half. Sam Merrill led the way for the Aggies, scoring 23 points in the win, but it was Justin Bean that carried the Aggies down the stretch. Bean scored seven of the Aggies final nine points to put the game out of reach.
Vance Jackson led the way again for the Lobos, scoring 25 points, but the Lobos appeared to run out of steam late in the contest. The Lobos went the final 3:24 without making a field goal, and were outrebounded for the game 46-28.
The game was very sloppy, the teams combined for 34 turnovers, and 48 fouls. Some fouls and turnovers in both directions were questionable. Utah State was called for a 10-second violation despite it obvious that the ball had crossed the midcourt line, only to be deflected back. New Mexico’s Paul Weir picked up a technical foul after coming over half court to argue a call where the ball went off of Utah State and the officials called it off of New Mexico.
Despite all that, the Lobos kept it close throughout, using a full court press defense, and timely buckets. Utah State figured out the press midway through the second half and were able to break it for easy buckets.
The win for Utah State sets them up with a Semifinal matchup with Fresno State, a team whom the Aggies split the season series with, with each team winning by one point on the opposing home floor. The winner of course will get the winner of Nevada-San Diego State for all the marbles on Saturday.
The loss for the Lobos ends their disappointing season on a sour note. The Lobos were picked by many to finish in the top four of the Mountain West, the team ended up seventh, and end with just the program’s second losing season in the last 16.