LAS VEGAS -- Junior guard Tony Snell tied a school tournament record with five 3-pointers and scored a game-high 17 points to lead No. 15 New Mexico to a 60-50 victory over San Diego State Friday night.
Top seeded New Mexico (28-5), which is the defending tournament champion, will face the winner of Friday night's other semifinal between No. 3 seed UNLV and No. 2 seed Colorado State in the championship game on Saturday afternoon with the Mountain West's automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament at stake.
Junior forward Cameron Bairstow
scored 16 points and grabbed 11 rebounds for the Lobos. Alex Kirk
, UNM's 7-foot sophomore center, added 15 points and seven rebounds for the Lobos, who took control of the game with a 24-4 run over a 10-minute span that started with 5:57 remaining in the first half.
Snell, who was 5 of 8 beyond the arc, tied the school record for 3s in a tournament game set by Royce Olney in the 1997 WAC Tournament. He connected on 3-pointers on three straight possessions early in the second half, the final one capping the 24-4 run and increasing New Mexico's lead to 43-22.
Chase Tapley and Xavier Thames each scored 14 points and Jamaal Franklin
added eight points and 12 rebounds for San Diego State (22-10), which never got closer than nine points down the stretch.
New Mexico took a 29-20 halftime lead as the more physical Lobos dominated inside. The 6-foot-9, 250-pound Bairstow nearly had a double-double at intermission with 10 points and eight rebounds, while Kirk chipped in with six points and four boards.
San Diego State's starting front line of JJ O'Brien and DeShawn Stephens combined for two points and three rebounds. O'Brien, in fact, played 17 minutes and missed all five of his shots and didn't grab a rebound.
The Lobos went to the locker room with a 25-14 rebounding edge that resulted in a 13-4 advantage in second-chance points.
The Aztecs, who turned the ball over twice, stayed in the game by forcing seven turnovers en route to a 10-3 edge in points off turnovers.
NOTES: -- The game was rematch of the 2012 Mountain West Tournament final won by the Lobos, 68-59. ... Either San Diego State or New Mexico has won the Mountain West Tournament the last three years. The Aztecs won it in 2010 and 2011 while the Lobos won it in 2012. ... The Lobos and Aztecs split the regular-season series with both team winning on its home court. San Diego State's 55-34 victory on Jan. 26 marked New Mexico's lowest point total in a game since Jan. 31, 1976, when the Lobos scored 32 at Utah.
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