Utah State Closes Out New Mexico 91-83, Advances to Mountain West Tournament Semi-Finals
Utah State holds on despite netting a season-high 24 turnovers
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Utah State holds on in a game that was close throughout
Conference player of the year Sam Merrill finished with 23 points and 9 assists as Utah State put away New Mexico late in the quarter-finals of the Mountain West Conference Tournament.
It was a game riddled with fouls and complete with 19 lead changes, 16 ties and ultimately decided by which team had the last swing of momentum.
New Mexico led the game by a margin of 52-44 with momentum on their side before a technical foul was called on head coach Paul Weir after a missed call.
The missed call (a call giving possession to Utah State after the ball last touched Neemias Queta) should have afforded New Mexico possession, but instead led to a four point swing in favor of Utah State.
The score remained close from that point, but a foul on Carlton Bragg with just 7:25 remaining – his fifth – left the Lobos junior forward sitting on the bench for the rest of the game. The shorter bench combined with the 40 minutes of pressure defense that was implemented by the Lobos made matching up with Queta an even more difficult task.
Still, things were knotted up at 78-78 with just 3:14 remaining and it was a one possession game with just 2:11, but the offense stopped flowing for New Mexico, and Utah State closed the game out on strong free throw shooting.
There were a combined 48 personal fouls in the game (29 of which came from New Mexico) leading to 45 attempts and 35 points secured at the charity stripe for the Aggies.
Utah State will face either Fresno State or Air Force in the conference tournament semifinals.
Utah State: Sam Merrill (23 points, 9 assists, 4 rebounds, 1 steal), Neemias Queta (16 points, 6 rebounds, 6 blocks, 2 assists, 1 steal), Justin Bean (14 points, 15 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 steal, 1 block)