Fourth-seeded San Diego State overcame a horrid shooting start to take a 25-22 lead over No. 3 UNLV in the championship game of the Mountain West Conference tournament at the Thomas & Mack Center.
Malcolm Thomas has seven points and five rebounds for San Diego State. Kawhi Leonard scored six points, but pulled down 13 rebounds.
San Diego State dominated the glass, outrebounding UNLV by a 24-12 margin.
Justin Hawkins scored five points for UNLV, including a 3-pointer at the buzzer to cut the deficit to three points.
Oscar Bellfield has six points and three assists to lead the Rebels, who made just 8 of 25 from the field in the half.
San Diego State went 10-for-28 from the field and is yet to make a 3-pointer in six attempts
UNLV led by six points midway through the half, but the Aztecs answered with an 8-0 run to take the lead.
San Diego State is looking to duplicate the success of its women’s team, which won the championship game over Utah earlier today.
If Friday night’s thrilling semifinals were a car race, the first half of the championship game has been more like a demolition derby.
All four teams raced up and down the court and scored at will yesterday, but the pace of those games seems to have had an effect on both teams today.
Points have been at a premium and shots have been clanging off the rim at an alarming rate.
At the second media timeout, San Diego State was shooting 2-for-14 from the floor (14.3 percent). The Rebels weren’t much better, hitting just 2 of 9 (22.2 percent) attempts at the time.
Jerry Tarkanian has become a staple at UNLV games in the last few years as Lon Kruger has welcomed back the legendary coach with open arms.
The Shark has a familiar face sitting by him courtside today, though.
Larry Johnson is cheering on the Rebels just about 10 feet away from the floor that propelled the pair to a national title 20 years ago.