Returning to his hometown, Lorrenzo Wade said recently, was not a special occasion. He is revising that statement now, however, because winning in Las Vegas is becoming a big deal to him.
San Diego State is following Wade, a senior forward and former Cheyenne High School star, to the championship game of the Mountain West Conference Tournament.
Wade scored 24 points, and his layup with 26 seconds remaining helped lift the Aztecs to a 64-62 semifinal victory over top-seeded Brigham Young on Friday at the Thomas & Mack Center.
"It’s something I’m going to remember for the rest of my life, especially since it’s here in Vegas," Wade said. "To have my mom and my sister and my friends from high school here to witness it, it makes it more special.
"I’m not going to get emotional. We’ll wait until (today) and see how everything goes."
Fourth-seeded San Diego State (23-8) advanced to play No. 2 seed Utah, a 68-55 winner over Wyoming, in the title game at 4 p.m. The conference’s automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament is on the line.
The Aztecs, 10-3 since late January, are in good position to make the NCAA’s 65-team field even with a loss today.
Wade scored four points late in the game to send the Cougars (25-7) home early.
He ran the baseline, caught a pass from Tim Shelton and made a layup to put San Diego State ahead 61-58 with 26 seconds left.
BYU sophomore Jimmer Fredette was fouled by the Aztecs’ Richie Williams on an apparent 3-point attempt with 10.6 seconds to go. After a replay review, the officials ruled Fredette’s toe was on the line. He made both free throws to close the Cougars’ deficit to one.
San Diego State’s Kyle Spain was fouled and made the first of two free throws with 10 seconds left. The Aztecs retained possession after a scramble for the rebound, and Wade was fouled and hit two free throws.
Lee Cummard’s layup with 1.6 seconds to go for BYU closed out the scoring. Fredette finished with 17 points, and Cummard had 11. Jonathan Tavernari, a junior forward from Bishop Gorman, shot 2-for-8 and was limited to five points.
Wade shot 6-for-11 from the field and 11-for-11 at the free-throw line. He also had seven rebounds and three steals in 38 minutes.
"It was a game that we kind of expected. It went right down to the wire," Cougars coach Dave Rose said. "What Wade’s done the last two nights is make big plays for his team."
Wade had 20 points and 10 rebounds Thursday as San Diego State eliminated UNLV 71-57 in the quarterfinal round.
"I’m trying to make plays to help us win, and trying not to force things," Wade said. "So I don’t want to say I try to put the team on my back at all. We’re a team with so much talent."
Spain, one of the Mountain West’s best athletes, had 13 points. But it was Wade who earned most of the praise.
"You’ve got to have guys who can make plays," Aztecs coach Steve Fisher said. "Lorrenzo is a playmaker. He’s as good as anybody in the country the way he’s playing right now."
Contact reporter Matt Youmans at email@example.com or 702-387-2907.SAN DIEGO STATE – 64
BRIGHAM YOUNG – 62
KEY: Aztecs senior Lorrenzo Wade scored 24 points, including four in the final 26 seconds.
NEXT: MWC tournament championship, San Diego State vs. Utah,4 p.m. today, Thomas & Mack Center, Versus (67), KWWN-AM (1100)