The Mountain West Conference Tournament never fails to deliver! Let’s recap another hectic day of hoops in Day 2 of the Mountain West Tournament!
(1) San Diego State 64, (8) Colorado State 61
It didn’t come easy, but the San Diego State Aztecs held off Colorado State in a the first of three thrillers, 64-61, advancing to their sixth-straight semifinal.
They shot only 38.2 percent and had 13 turnovers, but was outstanding defensively down the stretch and were led by two of their best in Lamont Butler and Matt Bradley. Butler finished with 16 points on 5-of-14 shooting, while Bradley finished with 13 on 4-of-8 shooting. Jaedon LeDee had 10 points and eight boards as well.
All things considered, the Rams looked just as good defensively, but wasn’t able to scratch together enough offense when it so despartely needed to, especially in the halfcourt.
Isaiah Stevens tallied 16 points — all coming in the second half — with Tonje recording a game-high 17 points on 6-of-10 shooting. Patrick Cartier made a difference on the interior, finishing with 12 points and seven rebounds, while Jalen Lake had 10 points with a pair of 3s.
After falling behind 8-0 early, San Diego State rallied to take a 27-25 halftime lead, despite turning the ball over eight times (though it finished with 11 more rebounds). Both teams were shooting below 38 percent in the opening half and were a combined 3-of-18 from deep.
SDSU held Isaiah Stevens scoreless in the first half. Tonje led the Rams with 13 points — scoring 11 of their first 15 — while Lamont Butler led SDSU with eight points at the break.
Stevens’ first basket did not come until 14:40 left in the game. His Kawhi-Leonard-In-Game-7-esque jumper gave the Rams the lead 59-58, though two Aztec free throws re-gave SDSU the lead with 1:20 left.
After Stevens missed a semi-contested transition lay-in attempt, Bradley sunk two free throws with 16.6 seconds left to widen SDSU’s lead to three — 62-59. Stevens trimmed it to one with 11 seconds left, but a pair of Mensah free throws capped off a gritty Aztec victory.
(5) San Jose State 81, (4) Nevada 77 (OT)
Third time’s a charm?! Well, in terms of the context of it being the Mountain West Tournament — the NINTH time is a charm for these San Jose State Spartans.
Our first upset — and only (spoiler) to date — of the Mountain West Tournament came Thursday afternoon, as San Jose State knocked off Nevada 81-77 in overtime.
It was San Jose State’s first-ever win in the MW tourney win after going winless over its first eight tries. Nevada beat SJSU twice in the regular season by a combined 42 points.
Despite going 6-of-25 from 3-point range, the Spartans went 26-of-40 inside the arc with 46 of its 81 points coming in the paint. Wowza! Nevada shot only 38.3 percent (23-60) — making one more make from deep on the same number of attempts — but went 16-of-35 (45.7 percent) from inside-the-arc with 20 fewer points in the paint.
Despite a lackluster first half, the Pack entered the halftime down by only five — 31-26. The Pack soon trailed by 11 nearly four minutes into the second half, but a 15-4 run on the backs of Jarod Lucas and Nick Davidson tied the contest at 44 with 11:46 to go.
The Wolf Pack’s largest lead came with 8:08 to go, when Tre Coleman sunk a triple that made it 52-48. After Lucas’ game-tying jumper with 20 seconds left, the contest went into overtime tied at 65. Though Nevada converted two of their nine overtime attempts, with their first field goal when they were down six with 43 seconds to go.
Omari Moore, the Mountain West player of the year who canned the a huge 3-pointer with 2:26 left in overtime, led the Spartans with 26 points and 10 assists, going 11-of-25 from the hardwood. Lucas tallied a game-high 28 points on 10-of-19 shooting.
San Jose State moves on to advance San Diego State Friday at 6:30 p.m. PT. They’ve now reached 20 wins for the first time since 1980-81 and could possibly squeak into an NIT/CBI Tournament appearance for the first time since 2010-11.
Nevada, on the other hand: #YIKEEEES!! Nevada was almost a sure-fire NCAA tournament team three weeks ago ... until they weren’t. The Wolf Pack were on the bubble, but have now lost three straight games — including two to Quad 3 opponents (after starting 10-0 vs. Q3 foes). Any bubble they were in has essentially been popped.
They’ll almost certainly be an NIT squad, but their improbable run ends in an cataclysmic collapse. Steve Alford now 2-4 in six Mountain West Tournament affairs with three quarterfinal exits in four seasons at Nevada.
(2) Boise State 87 vs. (7) UNLV 76 (OT)
In our third thriller of Thursday’s slate, the Boise State Broncos survived a remarkable UNLV comeback, beating the Rebels 87-76 in overtime.
It marked UNLV’s third consecutive overtime game. But they were unable to squeeze another victory, going 1-for-9 in the OT period.
The contest began exceptionally for Boise State, who made 18 of their first 25 shots and 10 of their first 14 triples — unloading 50 first-half points on UNLV’s home floor. They led by 22 at one point in the first half and wasn’t letting much of the rope go.
But the Rebels still didn’t go away without a fight — a 26-8 run trimmed the deficit to 56-52 with 12:36 left. EJ Harkless’ three-point play put UNLV ahead 67-65 with 4:04 remaining. Boise State missed its first nine second-half 3-point attempts before Naje Smith re-gave them the 68-67 advantage.
Boise’s Marcus Shaver and UNLV’s Luis Rodriguez both traded triples to make it a two-point game with less than two minutes to go. After the Broncos took a three-point lead, a ridiculous second-chance fadeaway triple from UNLV’s Shane Nowell tied it at 73 with less than a second left—the score it would be heading into OT.
The Broncos ended up going 3-of-5 from the floor in overtime, but knocked down seven free throws with one triple — outscoring UNLV 14-3 in the period.
Boise State had five double figure scorers, with Smith scoring a team-high 18 points; Chibuzo Agbo and Tyson Degenhart had 16 points apiece while Marcus Shaver totaled 17 points.
Harkless and Justin Webster both led UNLV with 18 points apiece, combining for 13 made field goals on 30 attempts. Webster knocked down five triples, three more than any other Rebel player.
(3) Utah State 91, (6) New Mexico 76
To cap off Thursday’s Day 2 action, Taylor Funk powered Utah State past New Mexico to advance to yet another MW semifinals! Funk scored 18 of Utah State’s first 22 points — including the team’s first 16 — eventually finishing with 30 points on 9-of-15 shooting.
As a whole, Utah State knocked down 12 triples at a 50.0 percent clip, compared to New Mexico, who typically possesses a drastically different shot profile. Nevertheless, the Lobos went 2-of-10 from distance and 1-of-8 in the second-half, making 43.8 percent of its field goal attempts.
Jamal Mashburn Jr. and Morris Udeze were New Mexico’s two-best on the floor Thursday, despite the loss. Mashburn finished with 20 points, with Udeze recording his 13th double-double of the season, this time finishing with 16 points and 11 rebounds in 31 minutes.
Jaelen House wasn’t as effective as he was in the first round, adding 11 points and four boards while battling foul trouble. Josiah Allick tallied 14 points with eight rebounds.
Utah State rode Funk’s hot start into halftime, where it led 44-34. A 12-2 Aggie run widened its advantage to 61-45 with 13:12 remaining. Utah State stretched the lead to 18 on multiple occasions, but a 10-0 Lobos made it an eight-point deficit with six minutes remaining.
Though the run ended there. Four straight points from USU’s Steven Ashworth, who finished 22 points, followed by a dunk from Mountain West sixth man of the year Dan Akin (17 PTS, 8 REB) widened the advantage back up to 16 with 1:13 left, putting the game out of reach.
Utah State will face Boise State in the semifinals on Friday evening at 9 p.m. P.T.
What does the Semifinals look like?
All times listed below are in the pacific time zone!
(1) San Diego State vs. (5) San Jose State, 6:30 p.m., CBS Sports Network
Betting line: San Diego State -8.5
(2) Boise State vs. (3) Utah State, 9 p.m., CBS Sports Network
Betting line: Utah State -1