Posted at: 03/15/2014 6:28 PM
Updated at: 03/15/2014 7:41 PM
By: Shaun Griswold, KOB.com
A 3-point dagger by Kendall Williams with under a minute to play led New Mexico to a 64-58 win over San Diego State in the Mountain West tournament championship.
Williams had 16 points as No. 20 New Mexico won its third straight Mountain West tournament championship.
Mountain West Player of the Year Xavier Thames hit a 3-point basket to bring No. 8 San Diego State to within two points late in the game.
But he missed his next attempt then fouled out of the game to put the Lobos at the free throw line with 13 seconds left on the clock. He finished with 15 points on 6 for 17 shooting to lead the Aztecs.
Like all of their tournament games, the Lobos jumped to an early lead to start the game. They went into the halftime with a five point lead.
San Diego State stole the opening of the second half by converting five New Mexico turnovers into a 10-2 run. The Aztecs scored 21 points in the game off 15 Lobo turnovers.
With under 10 minutes to play the Aztecs led 41-40, but Thames was sent to the bench with foul trouble.
New Mexico capitalized with a 15-8 run that was punctuated by a 3-point bucket from Deshawn Delaney with 3:55 left in the game. Delaney had 7 points and 5 rebounds to round out a strong conference tournament performance.
San Diego State clawed back to make it a one point game with just over a minute left, but the Aztecs could not penetrate inside against Alex Kirk and Cameron Bairstow.
Bairstow scored six of the last nine points for the Lobos. He led New Mexico with 17 points and 9 rebounds.
Kirk, a defensive menace inside the paint, had 8 points and 11 rebounds.
Off the bench for San Diego State, Dwayne Polee II scored 14 points on 3-4 shooting from 3-point range.
Both teams struggled from behind the arc as they each only made two 3-point baskets on a combined 4-18 3FG before lighting up toward the end of the contest.
Cullen Neal was the catalyst to turn things around. He kissed a 3-point basket off the glass as he was fouled and then completed a four point play.
Later on, a five point swing by Hugh Greenwood was capped by an open three to extend New Mexico’s lead. Greenwood finished with 12 points, 4 rebounds and 4 assists.
The teams split the regular season series, both winning at home. Sunday, each team will find out where they will be seeded in the NCAA Tournament.