ameThe first round of the Mountain West Conference tournament was played on Wednesday with three games featuring the teams that finished sixth through 11th. It was a good day for the lower seeds as they won two of the three games played.
Air Force 77, Fresno State 70
Ninth-seeded Air Force (12-19) led for all but one minute and shot 54 percent from the field. Led by sophomore A.J. Walker, who posted a career-high 24 points, including five three pointers and Lavelle Scottie, who added 21 to move into fourth on the school's all-time scoring list, Air Force advances to a quarterfinal against top seed San Diego State. Eighth seed Fresno State (12-19) hit 16 three-point field goals, something they also did in last year's tournament against Air Force.
New Williams led the Bulldogs with 21 points in his final game while Nate Grimes posted a double-double with 13 points and 11 rebounds. Air Force led 58-50 with 8:09 left, but Fresno State hit five consecutive three-pointers to take a 66-64 lead with 4:33 to play. The Bulldogs' offense went cold from that point on as the Falcons scored 13 of the game's final 17 points.
New Mexico 79, San Jose State 66
In the only game where the higher seed won, seventh seed New Mexico (19-13) advanced to the quarterfinals on the back of junior forward Vance Jackson, who poured in 26 points and grab 12 rebounds as the Lobos took control of the game with a 21-0 run midway through the first half. Awaiting New Mexico is defending tournament champion Utah State, who eliminated them in this round last year.
Makuach Malach added 22 points and seven rebounds for New Mexico, which also was perfect from the free throw line at 14-14. Seneca Knight led tenth seed San Jose State (7-24) with 22 points as the Spartans cut a 16-point deficit down to nine less than two minutes into the second half. Jackson scores 14 straight points to put New Mexico back in control at 59-42 and the Lobos never looked back.
Wyoming 80, Colorado State 74
In what was the biggest upset of the day, Wyoming (8-23) led by as many as 16 points in becoming the first 11th seed to win a game in the conference tournament. Freshman Kwane Marble II led the Cowboys with a season-high 20 points as all five starters finished in double figures. Wyoming hit 16 three-pointers to advance to face third seed Nevada.
Isiah Stevens led Colorado State (20-12) with 22 points and eight rebounds and superstar Nico Carvacho added 20 points and 15 rebounds, extending his Mountain West record with his 49th double-double. Adam Thistlewood also finished in double figures in rebounds with 10 as the Rams shot just 40 percent from the floor and committed 16 turnovers.