Sam Merrill Leads Second Half Comeback
Mountain West Sending Two Teams To NCAA Tournament
Merrill’s three-pointer with 2.5 seconds left lifts Aggies over Aztecs
San Diego State was already heading to the big dance, the only question was would it hoard the Mountain West automatic bid to itself or would someone come in and grab it.
Utah State was in a treacherous position according to most bracketologists and would have been sweating out Selection Sunday had they not won, but a deep three point basket by Sam Merrill that gave the Aggies the 59-56 win.
Both team struggled to score in the first half, but the Aztecs built a huge lead of 16 points with under three minutes remaining.
Merrill spearheaded a 10-2 run that brought the lead down to eight, giving Utah State life heading into the locker room. Leading at half was a strange position for San Diego State since they had grown accustomed to falling behind at half and coming back. Today the script was flipped and the Aggies did to the Aztecs what the Aztecs had done to so many teams before.
Utah State shot lights out in the second half (56.0%) and took a four point lead with under six minutes to play. From there it was a grind it out affair that went back and forth. In the end the Aztecs had a half-court heave to tie the contest, but Malachi Flynn’s shot rimmed out at the buzzer.
Merrill led the way for the Aggies with a game-high 27 points. Neemias Queta chipped in 15 points and eight rebounds.
Flynn led the Aztecs with 16 points. Yanni Wetzell had a double-double, 12 points and 13 rebounds. And KJ Feagin finished with 11 points.
The loss may have been a blessing in disguise for the Aztecs as they will likely drop to the second seed line in the NCAA tournament and will probably be shipped out west instead of being a No. 1 seed out East.
Utah State now gets to relax on Selection Sunday, knowing that they are in the NCAA tournament.