Mountain West tournament coverage day 5: The quarterfinals

Bailey Bassett

The Colorado State men’s basketball team has been eliminated from the Mountain West Conference tournament, but the action didn’t stop. Day five in Las Vegas was jam-packed with four games played, each seeing a wide variety of outcomes including close matchups, blowouts, upsets and more. 

SDSU 73 – Air Force 60

The first game was No. 1 seeded San Diego State University against No. 9 seeded Air Force Academy, and the stands were completely packed, mainly with Aztec fans. The Falcons, a team loaded with seniors, had just upset Fresno State in the first round, and they were ready to do the same to SDSU as they came out ready to play. The Falcons took a lead into halftime and well into the second half of play. 

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However, SDSU pulled away at the end and won 73-60. Conference Player of the Year Malachi Flynn finished with 16 points. He wasn’t his usual level of efficient, but he showed why he is so respected around the league with his floor command and defensive ability. 

SDSU’s energy was all-around better in the second half. They allowed Air Force to shoot 60% in the first half, but that number fell to 27.3% in the second half.

Boise State 67 – UNLV 61

Game two on the day between Boise State and the University of Nevada, Las Vegas was competitive throughout the entire matchup. The final score was 67-61 with the Broncos not pulling through until the very end. UNLV’s Bryce Hamilton put in a valiant effort in the loss. He scored 24 points, including a clutch three at the end to give UNLV a chance.

Justinian Jessup of Boise State dropped 19 points and iced the game late by shooting 6-6 from the free-throw line. The Broncos did a good job of clogging the lanes defensively, as UNLV is a dominant team inside but not a great shooting team from outside.

Utah State 75 – New Mexico 70

The third performance of the night was Utah State vs. New Mexico. Utah State was the strong favorite, but the game was one of the most closely fought battles of the tournament. 

Basketball is a game of runs, and that was evident. Utah State and specifically Sam Merrill dominated the beginning of the game. New Mexico and Jaquan Lyle then made a run of their own around the middle of the first half.

After that, the score was close the whole time, and miniature runs occurred due to both teams experiencing major foul trouble. Utah State’s Merrill, Neemias Queta and Sean Bairstow and New Mexico’s Zane Martin, Corey Manigault and Vance Jackson all finished with four fouls and sat significant stretches. The Lobos’ Kurt Wegscheider even fouled out.

Merrill ended up with 29 points and sealed the game late with Diogo Brito, both players hitting big shots late in the game.

Wyoming 74 – Nevada 71

CSU’s conqueror in the tournament was underdog and border rival University of Wyoming. They were the underdog once more against Nevada, but they have started to become a Cinderella story, as they knocked off the No. 3 seeded Nevada Wolf Pack by a score of 74-71.

Guard Kwane Marble II led the way for the Cowboys on offense, leading the team with 24 points in their quarterfinal upset over Nevada. The win marked the Cowboys’ first win over the Wolf Pack since the 2017-18 regular season. 

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Hunter Maldonado, the player CSU limited in their game, was shut down again, but Wyoming is motivated and keeps finding ways to win. The Cowboys will now face another tough opponent with the defending champions in Utah State while SDSU will face off with Boise State.  

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  • Utah State players celebrate on March 5. Through an emotional game, Utah State beat New Mexico 75-70. (Ryan Schmidt | The Collegian)

  • Justin Bean shoots the ball on Mar. 05. Through an emotional game, Utah State beat New Mexico 75-70. (Ryan Schmidt | The Collegian)

  • University of New Mexico men’s basketball head coach Paul Weir on March 5. Through an emotional game, Utah State beat New Mexico 75-70. (Ryan Schmidt | The Collegian)

  • Diogo Brito looks to make a play on Mar. 05. Through an emotional game, Utah State beat New Mexico 75-70. (Ryan Schmidt | The Collegian)

  • CBS sports gives an update on the court on Mar. 05. Through an emotional game, Utah State beat New Mexico 75-70. (Ryan Schmidt | The Collegian)

  • Utah State University men’s basketball head coach Craig Smith during a timeout on March 5. Through an emotional game, Utah State beat New Mexico 75-70. (Ryan Schmidt | The Collegian)

  • Utah State fans cheer on Mar. 05. Through an emotional game, Utah State beat New Mexico 75-70. (Ryan Schmidt | The Collegian)

  • Corey Manigault shoots on Mar. 05. Through an emotional game, Utah State beat New Mexico 75-70. (Ryan Schmidt | The Collegian)

  • A Utah State Aggie fan cheers on March 5. Through an emotional game, Utah State beat New Mexico 75-70. (Ryan Schmidt | The Collegian)

  • Boise State basketball player Abu Kigab shoots on March 5. Boise State beat University of Nevada, Las Vegas 67-61. (Ryan Schmidt | The Collegian)

  • Boise State basketball player RayJ Dennis guards University of Nevada, Las Vegas player Bryce Hamilton on March 5. Boise State beat UNLV 67-61. (Ryan Schmidt | The Collegian)

  • Boise State basketball player Alex Hobbs moves to shoot on March 5. Boise State beat University of Nevada, Las Vegas 67-61. (Ryan Schmidt | The Collegian)

  • Boise State basketball player Justinian Jessup under pressure on March 5. Boise State beat University of Nevada, Las Vegas 67-61. (Ryan Schmidt | The Collegian)

  • San Diego State men’s basketball fans cheer during a free throw on March 5. San Diego beat Air Force 73-60. (Ryan Schmidt | The Collegian)

  • San Diego State University Aztec fans cheer March 5, 2020. San Diego beat the United States Air Force Academy 73-60. (Ryan Schmidt | The Collegian)

  • Malachi Flynn dribbles up the court on Mar. 5. San Diego beat Air Force 73-60. (Ryan Schmidt | The Collegian)

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Bailey Bassett can be reached at sports@collegian.com or on Twitter @baileybassett_.