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Blog: New Mexico holds on for 3rd straight league tournament crown


Sam Morris / Las Vegas Sun

New Mexico head coach Craig Neal cuts down the net after the Lobos defeated San Diego State 64-58 in the Mountain West Conference tournament championship game Saturday, March 15, 2014 at the Thomas & Mack Center.

Updated Saturday, March 15, 2014 | 5:34 p.m.

MWC Tournament: New Mexico vs. San Diego State

New Mexico coach Craig Neal hoists their trophy after defeating San Diego State 64-58 in their Mountain West Conference tournament championship game Saturday, March 15, 2014 at the Thomas & Mack Center. Launch slideshow »

New Mexico 64, San Diego State 58

Game over

Kendall Williams hit a long 3-pointer to sink the dagger into San Diego State's comeback bid and clinch the third straight Mountain West tournament title for New Mexico. Williams' shot put the No. 2 seed Lobos up by 5 with 24 seconds remaining and they held on for a 64-58 victory against No 1 seed San Diego State today at the Thomas & Mack Center.

Williams finished with 16 points, but none were bigger than that 3 with the shot clock winding down and the Aztecs threatening to complete a comeback. UNM had led by five with 2:08 remaining but SDSU quickly took the lead by creating turnovers in the back court. Cameron Bairstow put the Lobos back ahead for good with a big and-one play and Williams finished the job.

Bairstow finished with 17 points and nine rebounds on his way to tournament MVP honors. Williams and Alex Kirk, who had eight points and 11 rebounds today, joined him. Regular-season MVP Xavier Thames finished with 15 points and Dwayne Polee scored 14. Both of those guys made the all-tournament team and made great plays down the stretch to make it a game, but the Lobos had enough answers to pull out the victory.

Both of these teams will be in the NCAA Tournament, so this was more about settling the rivalry than any postseason aspirations. The teams traded victories on their home courts, although New Mexico played better for 70 of the 80 total minutes with SDSU pulling a stunning comeback for the league title last week at Viejas Arena.

This time the Lobos held on, and in his first season coach Craig Neal continued former coach Steve Alford's run in Las Vegas. And just before that happened. Alford earned his own net-cutting at MGM Grand Garden Arena with UCLA's upset against Arizona in the Pac-12 tournament.

Check later tonight for a full report from today's Mountain West title game.


Taylor Bern can be reached at 948-7844 or [email protected]. Follow Taylor on Twitter at

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