Friday, March 14, 2008

Yesterday's WAC-iness

Actually all the games were fairly mundane with no upsets, so no real wackiness. Now we still think that some network (hint: Fox, ESPN) is simply blowing it by not televising the Nevada - New Mexico State game today. This one should really be a brawl.

Anyway, on to last night:

Aggies take apart Idaho; Prepare for Wolf Pack
Jason Groves
Las Cruces Sun-News

LAS CRUCES - With less than five minutes left to play and with victory a forgone conclusion, New Mexico State University students started to chant.

"This is our house."

The sixth-seeded Aggies defeated No. 6 Idaho 73-53 in Thursday's Western Athletic Conference Tournament quarterfinal at the Pan American Center.

NMSU advanced to tonight's highly-anticipated semifinal against No. 2 Nevada at 8:30 p.m.

In his post game comments, Aggies head coach Marvin Menzies said that in tournament play, coaches don't have a lot of time to enjoy victories before preparing for the next game. In this case, the next game is Nevada.

"It's going to be a hard fought battle," said NMSU senior point guard Fred Peete, who had 12 points, six assists and five rebounds against Idaho. "Defensively, we just have to stay tough on them because they are going to knock down shots."

If there was one thing the Aggies did against Idaho, it was knock down shots. NMSU was 10-for-18 (55.6 percent) from behind the 3-point line. Senior forward Justin Hawkins scored 22 of his 26 points in the first half.

Hawkins was a rebound shy of a double-double in the first half, pulling down nine rebounds. The Aggies out rebounded Idaho 28-14 in the first half and 45-34 for the game...

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Boise State men overcome sluggish first half to beat Hawaii, advance to WAC semifinals
Nick Jezierny
Idaho Statesman

LAS CRUCES, N.M. - After a horrible first half in Thursday's WAC Tournament quarterfinal against Hawaii, Boise State sophomore point guard Anthony Thomas heard it from his coaches and some of his teammates.

So when Thomas returned to the floor for the second half, he looked in the stands at the Pan American Center and found his father, who had arrived just in time for the noon tipoff.

Thomas walked to the edge of the court and listened to his father's message.

"A family secret," John Thomas said when asked what he told his son. "But I should have talked to him before the first half."

The message worked.

Thomas, who was a first-half liability and a big reason why the BSU men's basketball team trailed by eight points, settled down in the second half. He began to steer the team's offense rather than try to create it, and the Broncos became ultra-efficient and rallied for an 80-74 win. The Broncos (23-8) advanced to a tournament semifinal Friday against Utah State (24-9), which defeated San Jose State 85-65 on Thursday.

Reggie Larry scored 26 points and pulled down nine rebounds to lead the Broncos, but the senior forward said extending the season would not have been possible without Thomas' transformation...
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Bulldogs show fight before falling to Nevada
Gary Estwick
The Fresno Bee

LAS CRUCES, N.M. -- Alex Blair jumped and stretched his arms high, too high for JaVale McGee to reach. He ended the play by hanging atop the rim, while McGee fell back to the Pan American Center court.

Blair scored again on Fresno State's next possession, and the senior forward was nearly halfway through his career-best performance.

McGee then vented his frustration on the Bulldogs, a continuing assault of dunks and jump shots that ended a season of disappointments and setbacks for No. 7 seed Fresno State with a 64-57 loss in the quarterfinals of the Western Athletic Conference tournament.

No. 2 seed Nevada advances to play No. 3 seed New Mexico State tonight in the WAC semifinals. By then, the Bulldogs will be back in Fresno, contemplating their final loss of the season, one last example of what happens when they fail to score points in crucial stretches.

"We had plenty of open looks, but you have to hit those shots," said coach Steve Cleveland, whose third season ended with a 13-19 record, his first losing mark in Fresno.

Fresno State shot 33.3% from the field.

Senior Kevin Bell became the school's all-time assists leader with four in the game, but he finished with 11 points on 4-of-16 shooting. Eddie Miller also ended his career with 11 points, as did Hector Hernandez, who scored nine.

Blair scored a career-best 14 points with eight rebounds against Nevada 7-footers McGee and David Ellis and Demarshay Johnson at 6-9. But not even Blair could defend McGee, who six days earlier ruined Senior Night at the Save Mart Center with a 23-point performance...
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WAC Tournament: Pack pushes into semis
Steve Sneddon
March 14, 2008

LAS CRUCES, N.M. -- Tournament host New Mexico State now stands in the path that could lead to Nevada's fifth straight NCAA Tournament berth.

To reach the semifinal game, the Pack had to get past a slippery spot on that path, beating No. 7 Fresno State, 64-57, in a difficult quarterfinal game in the Western Athletic Conference Tournament on Thursday at the Pan American Center.

JaVale McGee helped keep the Pack's season alive, with his 22 points and 10 rebounds. Nevada, the No. 2 seed after sharing the regular-season title with Utah State, New Mexico State and Boise State, opened a 13-point lead early in the second half. But there were anxious moments as the Bulldogs sliced the lead to three points at various points in the second.

"It's a hard-fought victory for us," coach Mark Fox said. "We played very well in the first half to establish a lead. Fresno was much more aggressive in the first 10 minutes of the second half. They whittled a lead down, like a good team will. We were fortunate to hang on and show some poise late again."

Nevada ran its overall record to 21-10 as it prepares to face No. 3-seeded New Mexico State in a semifinal at 7:30 p.m. tonight on KAME 21, after No. 1 Utah State plays No. 4 Boise State in the evening's first game. The Pack won both regular season games against New Mexico State, including an 87-78 victory at the Pan American Center on Jan. 24...
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