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New Mexico 64, San Diego State 58

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LAS VEGAS — It took just a week for the New Mexico Lobos to get some sweet revenge.

The 20th-ranked Lobos, who blew a 16-point lead in the final 12 minutes of a 51-48 Mountain West Conference regular-season title deciding loss at San Diego State on March 8, got sweet payback with a 64-58 victory over the eighth-ranked Aztecs in the conference tournament championship game Saturday afternoon at the Thomas & Mack Center.

Senior forward Cameron Bairstow scored a game-high 17 points and grabbed nine rebounds while garnering tournament MVP honors and Kendall Williams added 16 points, including a game-clinching 3-pointer with 26 seconds to go, as New Mexico became the first team in Mountain West history to win three consecutive tournament championships. It also earned the Lobos the league’s automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.

It was not easy.

The Lobos (27-6) appeared to have the game comfortably in hand when Bairstow sank a free throw to give New Mexico a 56-49 lead with 2:34 left. But San Diego State (29-4), which forced 15 turnovers, rallied to take a 57-56 lead on a three-point play by forward Dwayne Polee II after a steal by forward Winston Shepard.

But Bairstow answered with a fast-break three-point play of his own a few seconds later to put the Lobos back in front for good, 59-57. After Polee missed on a drive, Williams delivered the dagger with a long 3-pointer from top of the key that just beat the shot clock.

San Diego State point guard Xavier Thames, who scored a team-high 15 points, then air-balled an off-balanced 3-pointer and Bairstow, then sealed the win with two free throws after getting fouled on the rebound.

Shepard, who had 13 points, seven rebounds and three steals, finished the scoring with a free throw with 7.7 seconds remaining.

The first half was what might be expected between two ranked teams that split their regular-season series and went down to the final minute of the final game to decide the championship, a 51-48 Aztec victory.

There were four ties and six lead changes.

Thames, who had a team-high nine points, put San Diego State ahead 22-21 with a floater from the lane, but New Mexico answered with a 6-0 run to end the half and went into the locker room with a 27-22 lead.

Williams led New Mexico with 10 points, while Bairstow added six points and six rebounds.

The Lobos, whistled for only four fouls, enjoyed a big edge at the free throw line, converting 9-of-11 compared to 0-for-2 for San Diego State.

NOTES: San Diego State entered the game ranked No. 2 in the nation in scoring defense (57.2) and fourth in 3-point field goal defense (.288). … In their 59-51 semifinal victory over UNLV, the Aztecs extended their streak to 118 straight games of winning a game when leading with five minutes to go. … New Mexico senior G Kendall Williams is the only player in school history to with 1,500 points, 500 assists and 150 steals. … The Aztecs entered the game with a four-game winning streak against top-25 teams, including a 61-57 win at then No. 16 Kansas. … This marked the fifth time in six years San Diego State appeared in the Mountain West tournament final.

Alan is an experienced writer of online betting and casino guides. He is one of the main editors of Basketballinsiders.

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