Happy Mountain West Tournament day! We had quite the action-packed first round (three games) on Wednesday in Las Vegas, Nev. — so let’s not waste any more time and dive into it all!
(8) Colorado State 67, (9) Fresno State 65
Wednesday’s opener between the Colorado State Rams and the Fresno State Bulldogs nearly resulted in a remarkable comeback victory for the Bulldogs after CSU led by 12 with 7:34 left.
But, in classic fashion, Rams star guard Isaiah Stevens took over in the final two minutes, scoring the team’s final five points, including a game-winning rainbow floater with less than three seconds left to give Colorado State the 67-65 win.
Fresno State trailed by 12 — 60-48 — with over seven-and-a-half minutes left, rattling off a 17-2 run, capped by three Isaiah Hill free-throws to take the 65-62 lead with 1:46 left. But Stevens, arguably the most clutch player in the Mountain West, would not be denied. The 6-foot guard capped-off a 19-point performance by converting a game-tying three-point play plus the floater to advance Colorado State to the quarterfinal round.
Isaiah Hill led Fresno State with 22 points on 7-of-19 shooting, adding six assists. Eduardo Andre tallied a 20-point, 10-rebound double-double with three blocks. Fresno State shot 40.7 percent from the floor, knocking down eight of its 28 3-point attempts.
In addition to Stevens’ 19 points, Colorado State had two other double figure scorers: John Tonje, who led CSU with 20 points on nine attempts, and Patrick Cartier, who had 12 points in 24 minutes. It shot 43.6 percent and 7-of-19 from 3-point range with two fewer turnovers, but finished with four fewer rebounds.
Colorado State will face top-seeded San Diego State Thursday at 12 p.m. P.T. Colorado State lost both meetings, including a six-point overtime loss in Fort Collins, Colo., 82-76 on Jan. 18.
(7) UNLV 78, (10) Air Force 70 (OT)
Similar to its only matchup on the season in late February, the first-round meeting between Air Force and UNLV ended in a low-scoring, low-tempo battle — with UNLV coming on top yet again, in overtime, 78-70.
There were seven ties and ties lead changes on the afternoon; UNLV, who led for most of regulation couldn’t separate itself by more than seven points until overtime. Air Force eventually took a one-point lead, 55-54, with 3:30 left in regulation and didn’t let it up until less than a minute left.
UNLV missed nine of its final 10 field goal attempts in regulation, but still tied it at 57 courtesy of Elijah Harkless splitting a pair of free throws with 17.2 seconds left — neither team scored before OT.
Harkless completely took over overtime, scoring the first eight points and deflecting the ball from Jake Heidbreder that eventually put UNLV up five with less than three minutes left. Harkless ended up scoring 11 of UNLV’s 21 points in overtime. He finished with a career-high 35 points on 9-of-20 shooting, including 13-of-18 from the free-throw line.
Jake Heidbreder, Carter Murphy and Rytis Petraitis combined for 18 of Air Force’s 22 field-goal attempts. Heidbreder led Air Force with 24 points and nine boards on 5-of-10 shooting from distance. Murphy tallied 19 points on 6-of-11 shooting while Petraitis had 15 points and 10 boards.
UNLV was without their second-best player, and arguably their best defender in Keshon Gilbert, who was suspended one game after head-butting Tre Coleman in UNLV’s double-overtime win over Nevada in its season finale. It had two other double figure scorers in Justin Webster and Luis Rodriguez, who had 12 and 10 points, respectively.
UNLV will face No. 2 Boise State Thursday at 6 p.m. P.T. The Broncos took both meetings, including a narrow 73-69 road victory in Vegas on Feb. 19.
(6) New Mexico 87, (11) Wyoming 76
The New Mexico Lobos outpaced the Wyoming Cowboys 87-76 in the final game of the first round of #MWMadness, outscoring the Pokes by 47-31 over the final 17:27.
Wyoming kept pace with the Lobos in the opening half, heading into halftime with a 38-35 after a 20-point first-half from Hunter Maldonado. Despite scoring 73 combined points, the two programs shot a combined only 39.3 percent from the floor, including 26.9 percent (7-26) from distance.
An 8-0 run put New Mexico ahead by five with less than 14 minutes left, which was their largest lead up to that point of the game. UNM’s Jaelen House widened its advantage to 14 with 9:07 left and UNM didn’t look back; the lead did not dip below nine points the remainder of the game.
House and Mashburn scored or assisted for 43 of New Mexico’s final 47 points. On the evening, Jaelen House finished with 28 points on 8-of-15 shooting with seven rebounds, six assists and three steals. Jamal Mashburn Jr. had 22 points on 8-of-20 shooting, with six rebounds and three assists.
It was truly a dominant showcase for the two All-Mountain West duo, but they weren’t the only ones. Morris Udeze tallied 15 points and 11 boards; Josiah Allick had 12 points on 6-of-7 shooting with six rebounds and one block; Javont Johnson had six points with nine rebounds.
Maldonado caps off his remarkable Wyoming career with 36 points on 11-of-19 shooting, including 10-of-12 from the charity stripe. He also finishes with five rebounds and three assists. Jeremiah Oden and Xavier DuSell had 15 points apiece, its only other double figure scorers.
New Mexico will face No. 3-seeded Utah State Thursday evening at 8:30 P.T. The Lobos lost their only meeting against Utah State this season, 84-73, on Feb. 1.
What is the schedule for the Quarterfinal round?
All four games will be on Thursday, March 9. All times below are in the Pacific time zone.
Game 1: (8) Colorado State vs. (1) San Diego State, 12 p.m. PT, CBS Sports Network
Betting line: San Diego State -8.5
Game 2: (5) San Jose State vs. (4) Nevada, 2:30 p.m., CBS Sports Network
Betting line: Nevada -5
Game 3: (7) UNLV vs. (2) Boise State, 6 p.m., CBS Sports Network
Betting Line: Boise State -3.5
Game 4: (6) New Mexico vs. (3) Utah State, 8:30 p.m., CBS Sports Network
Betting line: Utah State -3
All odds are via DraftKings Sportsbook, the official sportsbook partner of SB Nation.