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New Mexico 63, Nevada-Las Vegas 56

The SportsXchange

LAS VEGAS -- Junior guard Tony Snell scored a game-high 21 points, including 10 in a row during one key stretch in the second half, to lead No. 15 New Mexico to a 63-56 victory over UNLV in the championship game of the Mountain West Tournament on Saturday at the Thomas & Mack Center.

It was the second straight year that the Lobos (29-5), who also claimed the regular-season Mountain West title, won the tournament and an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.

New Mexico held a 46-45 lead with 10:03 remaining when Snell, who was voted the tourney's most valuable player, fueled a 10-2 Lobo run over the next seven minutes. He made a pair of 3-pointers, a reverse layup and finished it off with a drive to the basket that gave New Mexico a 56-47 lead.

UNLV (25-9) closed to within 56-53 when guard Bryce Dejean-Jones, who finished with a team-high 19 points, hit back-to-back 3-pointers.

But Snell sealed the win with his fifth 3-pointer of the game with 58 seconds to play.

Kendall Williams finished with 12 points and seven assists and Hugh Greenwood added nine points, seven rebounds and five assists for New Mexico, which held UNLV to 33.9 percent shooting.

Freshman Anthony Bennett finished with 15 points and 11 rebounds for UNLV but scored just two points in the final 32 minutes.

Bennett, regarded as a probable top five NBA lottery pick if/when he decides to leave college, scored UNLV's first 11 points, nailing a 3-pointer from the top of the key to go along with a pair of powerful dunks. Still, it was only good enough to give the Rebels an 11-11 tie at the first media timeout.

New Mexico then took a 19-15 lead when point guard Hugh Greenwood sank 3-pointers on consecutive possessions. A steal and layup by Tony Snell upped the lead to six points before Justin Hawkins banked in a 3-pointer to halt a 10-2 Lobos run.

The Rebels closed the gap to 31-29 on a pair of Anthony Marshall free throws but Snell answered with a long arching 3-pointer from above the top of the key to put the Lobos back up by five, 34-29. UNLV cut it to 34-32 at halftime when Katin Reinhardt nailed a 3-pointer at the buzzer.

NOTES: New Mexico has a six-game tournament winning streak, its longest since joining the Mountain West Conference. The Lobos won five straight conference tourney games in 1996 and 1997 while competing in the WAC. ... UNLV, which was the visiting team for the contest because it was the lower seed, donned special black road uniforms for the contest and also unveiled new warm-up jackets that included hoods. Rebel players walked out to center court with the hoods up and covering their heads during player intros. ... A tournament record crowd of 18,500 attended the game.
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