Recently in 2010 Conoco MW Basketball Championships Category
2010 TOURNEY SETS ATTENDANCE, REVENUE RECORDS
The 2010 Conoco MWC Basketball Championships drew a record 71,946 over its five-day run and generated record-setting revenue for the conference. This year's total attendance of 71,946 included the first-ever sellout in the tournament's 11-year history when 18,500 were on hand for Friday's men's semifinal session at the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas. On Saturday, 12,728 witnessed the championship finals. FOUR MEN'S TEAMS PROJECTED TO RECEIVE NCAA TOURNAMENT BIDS
Heading into "Selection Sunday," a record four MWC men's basketball teams should receive bids in the NCAA Tournament. The following is the Rating Percentage Index (RPI) of each team as of Saturday. This is the first time the conference has had four teams with a top 50 RPI going into March Madness. The previous high was three teams (2000, 2003, 2007, 2009).
- New Mexico (9 RPI) --- Projected seeds: 4-ESPN; 3-Sporting News; 3-College RPI
- BYU (22 RPI) --- Projected seeds: 5-ESPN; 6-Sporting News; 6-College RPI
- San Diego State (24 RPI) --- Projected seeds: 12-ESPN; 11-Sporting News; 10-College RPI
- UNLV (42 RPI) --- Projected seeds: 7-ESPN; 11-Sporting News; 8-College RPI
Another important fact to note is that the MWC has had two teams (BYU, New Mexico) ranked for seven consecutive weeks. The MWC is one of five conferences (Big East, Big Ten, Big 12, SEC) with two or more of the same teams ranked in the Top 15 of both the AP
and ESPN/USA Today
Coaches polls. Also, the league has had three different teams (UNLV) ranked in the national Top 25 polls at some point during the regular season. TCU, SAN DIEGO STATE TO NCAA WOMEN'S TOURNEY
The MWC's 2010 women's basketball champion TCU, as well as the tournament champion San Diego State, also should receive NCAA Tournament bids. As of Saturday, at-large candidate TCU (22-8) had an RPI of 36. San Diego State (21-10) gained an automatic bid by winning the conference tournament. BETTER AND BETTER, HIGHER AND HIGHER
Last year, a MWC-record five teams reached the 20-win mark prior to postseason play. In 2009-10, four teams had already hit that benchmark heading into the final week of the regular season. In the league's previous 10 years, all 28 teams with 20 or more wins prior to "Selection Sunday" received postseason invitations.
The MWC currently ranks No. 7 in conference RPI for the 2009-10 season. That is the highest since finishing the 2002-03 season with a ranking of No. 6 in conference RPI. The MWC has ranked in the top 10 of the conference RPI in nine of the previous 10 seasons.
MWC teams have tallied 90 wins in non-conference play for the third time in four years, posting a collective 90-38 (.703) record overall this season. That is the second-best win percentage vs. non-conference opposition in league history (96-37, .722 in 2006-07). CLIMBING THE LADDER OF SUCCESS
Last year's No. 5 and No. 8 seeds by MWC teams in the NCAA Men's Basketabll Tournament marked the two highest seeds the MWC has received in the same NCAA Tournament. Since 2007, all MWC representatives in the NCAA Tournament have received a single-digit seed. For the 2000-2006 tournaments, only three of 16 MWC teams received single-digit seeds. MWC teams have a 7-9 record as single-digit seeds in the NCAA Tournament, compared to a 1-13 mark as double-digit seeds. MWC LEAVING ITS MARK
The MWC has had a team participate in the NIT Final Four in two of the last three years (Air Force in 2007 and San Diego State in 2009).UP, UP AND AWAY
When San Diego State women's basketball coach Beth Burns returned for her second stint at the school in 2005, the Aztecs were coming off consecutive 8-20 seasons. Burns' first season back produced a mark of 3-24 overall and 0-16 in Mountain West Conference play.
On Saturday, San Diego State won its first MWC Women's Basketball Tournament title, putting the Aztecs into the NCAA Tournament for the second straight year. It's the sixth time the Aztecs have advanced to the NCAA Tournament under Burns.
"I think we've had such great growth," Burns said after San Diego State beat defending champion Utah to clinch the tournament crown on Saturday. "We had great senior leadership that really helped us raise the whole team to understand the sense of urgency and focus that's needed when we all do something together." A FRESHMAN BY DESIGNATION ONLY
San Diego State freshman forward Kawhi Leonard, who earned first-team all-conference honors, was named the 2010 Conoco MWC Men's Basketball Tournament MVP after setting a Conference tournament record with 21 rebounds. He also scored a game-high 16 points as the Aztecs won the MWC Tournament title with a 55-45 win over UNLV on Saturday.
"You just got to be fearless and just have heart and just crash, just crash every board that goes up, try to hit a body," Leonard said. "Coach (San Diego State coach Steve Fisher) is always telling me, 'Just hit a body.' (My teammates) were helping me out by getting rebounds, too. It's just easier for me to get the rebound if my whole team crashes." SAN DIEGO STATE WINS TITLE
Kawhi Leonard scored 16 points and reeled in a career-high 21 rebounds as No. 4-seeded San Diego State beat No. 3-seeded UNLV 55-45 on Saturday to capture the 2010 Conoco MWC Men's Basketball Tournament championship at the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas.
As Conference champions, the Aztecs (25-8), who won their first MWC title since 2006, received an automatic bid into the NCAA Tournament. It will be San Diego State's first appearance in the NCAA Tournament since 2006. The Aztecs also won the conference title in 2002.
Leonard, a 6-foot-7 freshman forward who earned first-team all-conference honors and was named the tournament MVP, hit 8-of-8 free throws in the final 1:54. His rebound total broke the MWC Tournament record of 19 set by San Diego State's Marcus Slaughter in 2006 and also eclipsed the conference record for rebounds by a freshman (18).
In the lowest scoring men's championship game in conference history, the Aztecs, who led 25-22 at the half, finally gained the upper hand on a three-pointer by junior guard D.J. Gay to take a 46-40 lead with 5:33 left. In the final 6:04, the Rebels (25-8) were able to connect on just 2-of-11 shots from the floor.
Sophomore guard Oscar Bellfield and junior guard Tre'Von Willis shared scoring honors for UNLV with 11 points. Sophomore forward Chace Stanback added 10.
In three tournament games, Leonard averaged 14.3 points and 13.0 rebounds. He was joined on the all-tournament team by teammate Billy White. Willis and Stanback were also named to the all-tournament team, as were BYU's Jimmer Fredette and New Mexico's Darington
Hobson, the 2010 MWC Player of the Year.DOUBLE-DOUBLE
For only the second time in school history and the first time since 1985, both the San Diego State men's and women's teams are headed to the NCAA Tournament after winning championships on Saturday at the MWC Tournament. Both teams from Utah achieved the feat a year ago, as did the men's and women's teams from New Mexico in 2005. AZTECS HOLD LEAD AT HALF
Senior forward Kelvin Davis scored seven points and freshman forward Kawhi Leonard had six points and 13 rebounds as the No. 4-seeded San Diego State men's team held a 25-22 lead over No. 3-seeded UNLV on Saturday at halftime of the 2010 Conoco MWC Men's Basketball Championship final at the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas.
The Aztecs, last year's runners-up, are bidding for their first tournament title since 2006. UNLV has pocketed three previous conference championships, the most recent coming in 2008.
In a game in which the two teams combined to miss their first 12 shots, San Diego State finally broke the ice when Davis scored on a dunk with 4:08 gone in the game. Neither the Aztecs nor the Rebels, who split their regular-season series, enjoyed a lead of more than six in the opening 20 minutes.
Sophomore guard Oscar Bellfield led UNLV with six points in the first half.
SDSU WINS FIRST TOURNEY TITLE
For the San Diego State women's basketball team, hump day was Saturday.
The Aztecs, who finished as runners-up the past two years, finally took the summit on Saturday, turning back defending champion Utah 70-60 in overtime in the 2010 Conoco MWC Women's Basketball Championship final at the Thomas & Mack Arena in Las Vegas.
San Diego State, which entered the tournament as the No. 3 seed, gained an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament with the win. The Aztecs (21-10) advanced to the second round of the NCAA Tournament last year before falling to Final Four semifinalist Stanford.
Senior guard Quenese Davis, who earned tournament MVP honors, scored a game-high 22 points for the Aztecs, who also got 21 points from senior guard Jene Morris.
The Aztecs trailed 56-48 with four minutes left before staging an 8-0 run, tying the game on a basket by Morris with 2:25 to go.
Freshman center Taryn Wicijowski (19 points, seven rebounds) put the No. 4-seeded Utes back in front with a pair of free throws at the 2:06 mark, but a basket by San Diego State junior guard Coco Davis with 1:04 to play left the game tied 58-58 at the end of regulation.
The Aztecs outscored Utah 12-2 in the extra session, with Morris scoring six points.
Utah, which was bidding to become the first team since New Mexico (2007-08) to win consecutive titles, fell to 22-11.
Quenese Davis was joined on the all-tournament team by Wicijowski and Utes senior guard Kalee Whipple, who had 15 points in the title game and averaged a double-double (12.8 ppg, 11.0 rpg) in the Utes' four tourney games. Wyoming's Hillary Carlson also was named to the all-tournament team.
MWC WOMEN'S TITLE GAME IN OT
At the end of regulation, the final game of the 2010 Conoco MWC Women's Basketball Tournament No. 3-seeded San Diego State and defending championship and No. 4-seeded Utah, is tied at 58-58. Aztecs junior guard Coco Davis forced overtime on a short jumper with 1:04 to play.
HAWS MISSES UNLV GAME
BYU freshman guard Tyler Haws, who played only 15 minutes in a
quarterfinal win over TCU after being poked in the eye, was held out of
Friday's night's 70-66 semifinal loss to UNLV in the MWC Men's Basketball Championship Semifinals at
the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas.
Haws was averaging 11.3 points and 4.3 rebounds per game.
"You know, it's tough when you're third-leading scorer is not
there," said senior forward Jonathan Tavernari. "We feed off Ty so many
different ways, rebounding, scoring. He gives us an extra presence, an
extra offensive weapon. You know, certain guys kind of pick it up. So
it's hard not to have those extra points that we usually get.
UNLV KNOCKS OFF BYU
"But even without Ty, in the end (UNLV) made a few more plays
than we usually make. They weren't there for us tonight. But you've got
to give UNLV credit for the way they played, for making those plays
that we didn't."
Junior guard Tre'Von Willis scored 18 points and No. 3-seeded UNLV made 7-of-8 free throws in the final 1:35 to beat No. 2-seeded BYU 70-66 Friday night in the semifinals of the MWC Tournament at the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas.
The Rebels (25-7) will face No. 4-seeded San Diego State (24-8) in Saturday's championship game at 4 p.m.
Before a sellout crowd of 18,500, the first sellout in the tournament's 11-year history, UNLV advanced to the title game for the seventh time. The Rebels won in 2000, '07 and '08.
BYU (29-5) had won seven of its last eight but lost its eighth straight against UNLV at the Thomas & Mack Center.
The Cougars trailed by 11 with 16:49 left, but regained the lead at 61-59 on a jumper by Michael Loyd, Jr. with 2:51 left.
But UNLV reserve sophomore center Brian Massamba, who scored a career high 13 points, hit a pair of free throws with 1:35 left to put the Rebels ahead to stay.
BYU senior guard Jimmer Fredette, who established a single-game tournament record with 45 points against TCU in Friday's quarterfinals, finished with a game-high 30 points.
Sophomore forward Chace Stanback added 17 points for UNLV, which split with San Diego State during the regular season. The Rebels won 76-66 in Las Vegas on Jan. 13 before the Aztecs got even with a 68-58 victory in San Diego on Feb. 13. San Diego State beat UNLV 78-75 in the 2002 championship game.BOMBS AWAY
San Diego State's No. 4-seeded men's team hasn't exactly been the picture of perfection from three-point range this season. In fact, the Aztecs entered Friday night's MWC Tournament semifinal game against No. 1-seeded New Mexico shooting just 33.0 percent from beyond the arc, a figure that ranked no better than No. 6 among the conference's nine teams.
Against the Lobos, however, San Diego State shot a season-best 62.5 percent from long range, connecting on 10-of-16 attempts. Freshman forward Kawhi Leonard and freshman guard Chase Tapley were both 3-of-4 from three-point range. Leonard, who was shooting just 18.8 percent beyond the arc, hit a pair of threes in the first 1:20.
"When we came out (to start the game), we wanted to trap the post," said New Mexico coach Steve Alford. "Maybe it was a coach's mistake. We started the game by trapping the post because we didn't want to get our bigs in foul trouble. (San Diego State) swings the ball to Leonard, who is shooting less than 20 percent from three and he makes back-to-back threes to open the game. If you tell me, 'Do you want Leonard to shoot two threes to open the game, I tell you yes.' But they made them."
The Aztecs had shot better than 50.0 percent from three-point range only four times in their previous 31 games this season and had never surpassed the 60.0 percent mark.
San Diego State's win over the Lobos, ranked No. 8 in both the AP
and ESPN/USA Today
Coaches polls, was its first against an AP Top 25 team since an 82-80 win over No. 7-ranked BYU in 1988.UNLV LEADS AT HALF
Sophomore forward Chace Stanback scored 11 first-half points and No. 3-seeded UNLV shot 70.0 percent (7-of-10) from three-point range to build a 41-34 lead at intermission over No. 2-seeded BYU in a MWC Tournament men's semifinal game at the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas.
Stanback was 3-of-4 from beyond the arc. Junior guard Tre'Von Willis added eight for the Rebels, who have beaten the Cougars seven straight times at the Thomas & Mack Center.
In the front of an MWC-record 18,500 fans, the first sellout in the tournament's 11-year history, each team hit three three-point shots to open the scoring.
BYU senior guard Jimmer Fredette, who scored a tournament-record 45 points in the Cougars' quarterfinal win over TCU, had a team-high 12 points at the half.
The winner will meet No. 4-seeded San Diego State (24-8) in the title game on Saturday at 4 p.m. The Aztecs beat No. 1-seeded New Mexico 72-69 in the first semifinal game.SDSU DOUBLES UP AGAIN
For the second consecutive year, both the San Diego State men's and women's teams have advanced to the MWC basketball championship final games. Both lost a year ago, with the women's team falling to Utah 63-58 and the men losing to Utah 52-50.
The women's team, seeded No. 2, will face Utah once again in Saturday's final at 1 p.m. at the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas. San Diego State defeated No. 2-seeded BYU on Friday, while Utah, seeded No. 4, turned back No. 1-seeded TCU.
The San Diego State men will be looking for their first tournament crown since beating Wyoming 69-64 in overtime in 2007. San Diego State's women's team has never won the title.AZTECS OUST TOP-SEEDED LOBOS
Junior forward Billy White scored a career-high 28 points
and freshman forward Kawhi Leonard sealed matters with a pair of free
throws with .07 seconds left Friday night as No. 4-seeded San Diego
State knocked off No. 1-seeded and New Mexico 72-69 in the first of two MWC men's basketball championship semifinal games at sold-out Thomas & Mack Center in
In a game that featured eight lead changes and five ties,
Aztecs junior guard D.J. Gay put the Aztecs ahead for good on a
three-pointer with 1:07 left.
But Lobos junior guard Dairese Gary, who had not scored in
the second half after scoring a team-high 14 points in the opening 20
minutes, countered with a three-pointer of his own with 46 seconds
left, cutting the deficit to 70-69.
Gay missed a three-point attempt on San Diego State's ensuing
possession. New Mexico's Darington Hobson, the MWC Player of the Year,
grabbed the rebound with 11 seconds to go. The Lobos called timeout
before senior forward Roman Martinez inbounded the ball to Gary, who
drove the length of the court but missed a short jumper from the left
side of the basket with :01 second left. Leonard, a first-team
all-conference pick who produced his 15th double-double of the season
with 15 points and 12 rebounds, collected the errant shot and was
fouled by A.J. Hardeman.
The Aztecs (24-8), who entered the contest shooting 33.0
percent from three-point range, finished 10-of-16 (62.5 percent) beyond
the arc. Leonard and fellow freshman Chase Tapley both connected
on 3-of-4 three-point attempts.
New Mexico (29-4), ranked No. 8 in both the AP and ESPN/USA
Today Coaches polls, led 39-38 at the half after recovering from an
11-0 breakout by San Diego State to open the game.
LOBOS LEAD THE HALF
Gary led the Lobos with 17 points, while Hobson finished 15.
New Mexico, the conference's regular-season champion, had won 15
straight games after suffering consecutive losses at San Diego State
(Jan. 5) and at home against UNLV (Jan. 9).
Senior guard Dairese Gary hit a short jumper in the lane with 5.6 seconds left to give No. 1-seeded New Mexico a 39-38 halftime lead over No. 4-seeded San Diego State Friday night in the first of two 2010 Conoco MWC Men's Basketball Championship semifinals at the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas.
The Aztecs raced out to an 11-0 lead on a three-pointer by junior forward Billy White with 17:36 left in the half, but the Lobos, ranked No. 8 in both the AP
and ESPN/USA Today
Coaches polls surged back, tying the game 26-26 on a layup by sophomore guard Nate Garth at the 8:58 mark.
Gary had 14 first-half points to lead New Mexico, while White paced the Aztecs with 17.
The teams split during the regular season, with San Diego State winning 74-64 in San Diego and the Lobos pulling out an 88-86 overtime victory in Albuquerque.
The winner will face either No. 2-seeded BYU or No. 3-seeded UNLV. The second semifinal game is schedule to tip off at 8:30 p.m. THE HUNGER WITHIN
Under a new format last year in which the top two women's seeds in the MWC Tournament were granted byes into the semifinals, San Diego State was idle for six days, waiting to see what team would emerge as its opponent. This year, as the No. 3 seed, the Aztecs were forced to take the court a day earlier. Nonetheless, they advanced to the championship game for the third straight year, beating No. 2-seeded BYU 77-47. It was the largest margin of defeat in a women's semifinal game in the tournament's 11-year history.
"I think (it was) hunger," said San Diego State senior guard Jene Morris, who finished with a game-high 28 points. "You know, we came in as the third seed and we had to play more games than we did last year. We knew we needed to make it back to the championship. We made it (to the title game) two years in a row and came back empty-handed. We wanted to show how good we can be. I would say that hunger definitely contributed to that."
Although BYU women's coach Jeff Judkins and his players had to search hard for solace in the wake of Friday's loss to San Diego State, there's hope on the horizon --- plenty of it.
The Cougars have one senior.
"I think if they come back, improve as much as they improved this year for next season, we will be a contender," said Judkins, whose team fell to 20-9. "If we don't win the league, I think my team would be disappointed."
"We played very well this year," Judkins added. "We've played three games where we just got outplayed completely. That's kind of what I told my after the game. I said, 'You know, we can't play three games like this. A game like this should be once in your career, where you get blown out, you're not mentally into the game. ' We've got to figure out what causes that."
SDSU SETS UP REMATCH
The Mountain West Conference preseason favorite in women's basketball appears to have saved its best for last.
San Diego State, voted No. 1 in the conference's preseason coaches' poll, came out firing on all cylinders Friday as it raced past No. 2-seeded BYU 77-47 in the semifinals of the 2010 Conoco MWC Women's Basketball Championship at the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas.
It was the largest margin of victory in a women's semifinal game in the tournament's 11-year history.
The win vaulted the No. 3-seeded Aztecs into Saturday's championship game against No. 4-seeded Utah at 1 p.m. The game will be a rematch of last year's title game, won by Utah 63-58.
San Diego State (20-10), which went 6-5 over the course of its final 11 regular-season games, held a 44-29 advantage at the half after leading by as many as 19 in the opening 20 minutes.
Senior guard Jene Morris, chosen by coaches and select media members as the conference's Preseason Player of the Year, finished with 28 points for the Aztecs. In seven career MWC Tournament games, Morris, who connected on 10-of-14 shots from the floor, has scored 20 or more points five times. Senior guard Quenese Davis pitched in 18 points for SDSU.
BYU (20-9), bidding for its first appearance in the championship game since 2007, was led by junior forward Coriann Wood's 11 points. Junior guard Mindy Bonham added eight points for the Cougars.
With the MWC having introduced a new format for the women's tournament last year in which the top two seeds receive byes into the semifinals, TCU coach Jeff Mittie was asked if his team's six-day layoff had any impact on his No. 1-seeded team falling to No. 4-seeded and defending champion Utah on Friday.
Said Mittie: "No. I was glad to be sitting around. It means you won the league. The thing that was a little challenging for us was we didn't get as much practice time as I would have liked this week. Different things, circumstances. But I thought we kind of survived that. I thought we had a good workout (on Thursday).
"You know, you can go on and on about those things, explanations. I tell the team all the time, "I don't want to hear explanations; I don't want to hear excuses." I try to stay away from those things. I think Utah played excellent. I think they deserve all the credit in the world. I won't judge my team off of one game, because I've got a great group. They have worked hard all year long."
AZTECS LEAD AT HALF
San Diego State went on a 14-4 run midway through the first half on Friday as the No. 3-seeded Aztecs built a 44-29 halftime lead over No. 2-seeded BYU in the second women's semifinal game of the 2010 Conoco MWC Basketball Championships on Friday at the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas.
A San Diego State win would set up a rematch of last year's championship game against Utah, won by the Utes 63-58.
Senior guard Jene Morris, the conference's third-leading scorer (15.8 ppg), had 16 points for the Aztecs in the opening 20 minutes. Senior guard Quenese Davis added 13, hitting 4-of-5 shots from the floor.
Junior guard Mindy Bonham led BYU with eight first-half points.
San Diego State and BYU are the only MWC schools still represented by both a women's and men's team in the semifinals.
RIGHTING THE SHIP
With 14 games gone in the season, the Utah women's basketball team was 9-5 and about to lose three of its next four. The Utes had lost three starters from their 2009 MWC Tournament championship team, and putting the puzzle back together was proving a bit complex, particularly with a roster that included six freshmen.
On Saturday, the Utes, seeded No. 4 in the 2010 Conoco MWC Women's Basketball Championship, will be making their sixth appearance in the title game, after dispatching No. 1-seeded and regular-season champion TCU 69-57 in Friday's semifinals. Utah had been swept by the Horned Frogs during the regular season.
"I'm not surprised," said Elaine Elliott, who is in her 27th season as coach of the Utes. "You know, we really believed that we would continue to get better. That's what this team really was about. We weren't made up of juniors and seniors coming back from a (season) that said you were going to start strong and rip through. We had so many players that are used in our rotation that didn't know what their capabilities would be at this level. We believe they'll be very good at some point in their career, but the expectation that's going to happen as freshmen and sophomores is not a normal one to have at this level."
GET 'EM WHILE THEY'RE HOT
As of 3 p.m. PT on Friday, fewer than 2,000 tickets remained for tonight's semifinal contests of the 2010 Conoco MWC Men's Basketball Championship.
For just the second time in the tournament's 11-year history and the first time since 2001, the top four men's seeds will be in action when No. 1-seeded New Mexico meets No. 4-seeded San Diego State at 6 p.m. and No. 2-seeded BYU squares off against No. 3-seeded UNLV at 8:30 p.m.
In both games, there will be a score to settle. New Mexico (29-3) and San Diego State (23-8) split their regular-season series, with the Aztecs winning 74-64 in San Diego and the Lobos, ranked No. 8 in both the AP
and ESPN/USA Today
Coaches polls, prevailing 73-71 in overtime in Albuquerque.
BYU (29-4), ranked No. 14 in the AP
poll and No. 15 in the ESPN/USA Today
Coaches poll, edged UNLV 77-73 in Provo, before the Rebels (24-7) got even in Las Vegas 88-74.
To purchase tickets,
call UNLVTickets at (702) 739-FANS(3267) or (866) 388-FANS(3267), or
. Act fast - supplies are limited!
UTAH ADVANCES TO CHAMPIONSHIP
The No. 4-seeded Utah women's team used an 18-0 run at the outset of the second half to defeat No. 1-seeded TCU 67-59 in the first of two MWC Women's Basketball Championship semifinal games on Friday at the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas.
The Utes will face either No. 2-seeded BYU or No. 3-seeded San Diego State in Saturday's championship game at 1 p.m. PT. Defending champion Utah (22-10) will be making its sixth appearance in the title game, having previously pocketed championships in 2000 and 2006.
The Utes, who were swept by TCU during the regular season, held the Horned Frogs scoreless for the first 6:58 of the second half. TCU was limited to fewer than 60 points for just the fourth time this season. The regular-season champion Horned Frogs (22-8) entered the contest averaging a conference-best 72.8 points.
Utah senior forward Halie Sawyer posted her fourth double-double of the season, finishing with career highs of 24 points and 15 rebounds. Senior forward Kalee Whipple, the 2010 MWC Player of the Year, had 14 points for the Utes, who owned a 41-24 advantage on the boards.
Senior guard TK LaFleur had a team-high 15 points for TCU, which became the first No. 1-seeded women's team in the tournament to lose to a No. 4 seed in the semifinals since 2002. Senior guard Eboni Magnum had 13 points for the Horned Frogs, while junior guard Helen Sverrisdottir scored 12.
UTAH HOLDS LEAD AT HALF
With 11:10 left in the game, the No. 4-seeded Utah women's team is in the midst of an 19-3 run and holds a 48-26 lead over No. 1-seeded TCU in the first of two MWC Women's Basketball Tournament semifinals on Friday at the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas.
Senior forward Halie Sawyer, hitting 7-of-10 shots from the floor, has 17 points and eight rebounds for the Utes.
Senior guard Eboni Magnum has 10 points for the Horned Frogs, who were held scoreless over the first 6:52 of the second half.
TCU swept Utah during the regular season.
The winner will face either No. 2-seeded BYU or No. 3-seeded San Diego State in Saturday's championship game at 1 p.m.
NO EASY WAY OUT
If the No. 2-seeded BYU men's team is to find success against No. 3-seeded UNLV in tonight's semifinals (8:30), it will have to do so in a building that has become nothing short of a house of horrors for the Cougars.
While the two schools split the regular-season series with BYU winning in Provo (77-73) on Jan. 6 and UNLV winning in Las Vegas (88-74) on Feb. 6, the Rebels have beaten the Cougars seven straight times at the Thomas & Mack Center. UNLV has won four of the last five meetings overall and six of the last eight. In addition, the teams have met three times in the championship game, with the Rebels winning all three.
BYU enters the contest having set a single-season school record with 29 wins, while the Rebels have won five straight, averaging 74.4 points during the winning streak.
BUY YOUR TICKETS NOW!
You still have a chance to purchase tIckets for the semifinal and championship rounds of the 2010
Conoco Mountain West Basketball Championships. To place your order,
call UNLVTickets at (702) 739-FANS(3267) or (866) 388-FANS(3267), or
visit UNLVTickets.com. Act fast - supplies are limited and if ya snooze, ya lose!
STAGE IS SET
As with countless venues throughout Las Vegas, the stakes are
high. But nowhere will they be higher on Friday than in the MWC
Tournament semifinals at the Thomas & Mack Center.
For just the second time in the tournament's 11-year history
and the first time since 2001, the top four men's seeds will be in
action when No. 1-seeded New Mexico meets No. 4-seeded San Diego State
at 6 p.m. PT and No. 2-seeded BYU squares off against No. 3-seeded UNLV at
Friday's semifinals doubleheader will feature two teams in the top-15 of the national polls, and could culminate in the MWC sending a league-record four teams to the NCAA Tournament.
In both games, there will be a score to settle. New Mexico
(29-3) and San Diego State (23-8) split their regular-season series,
with the Aztecs winning 74-64 in San Diego and the Lobos, ranked No. 8
in both the Associated Press and ESPN/USA Today Coaches polls, prevailing 73-71 in
overtime in Albuquerque.
BYU (29-4), ranked No. 14 in the AP poll and No. 15 in the
ESPN/USA Today Coaches poll, edged UNLV 77-73 in Provo before the
Rebels (24-7) got even in Las Vegas 88-74.
UP FOR GRABS
As is the case on the men's side, all four of the women's top
seeds also will collide on Friday, with No. 1-seeded TCU (22-7) facing No.
4-seeded Utah (21-10) at noon PT, followed by No. 2-seeded BYU (20-8) going against
No. 3-seeded San Diego State (19-10) at 2:30 p.m.
This is the third time in tournament history and the first
time since 2002 that the top four seeds will do battle in the
Though TCU swept its regular-season series against Utah,
winning 62-41 in Fort Worth, the Horned Frogs needed a
conference-record four overtimes to get past the Utes (105-96) in Salt
BYU got the best of San Diego State with a 73-63 win in Provo, but was turned back by the Aztecs in San Diego, 73-71.
UNLV SETS UP SHOWDOWN WITH BYU
Freshman guard Anthony Marshall collected the second double-double of
his career with 13 points and 12 rebounds and No. 3-seeded UNLV
beat No. 6-seeded Utah 73-61 in the fourth MWC men's basketball tournament quarterfinal
game Thursday night at the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas.
The win vaulted the Rebels (24-7) into Friday's semifinal game against
No. 2-seeded BYU (29-4) at 8:30 PST. The two teams split during the
regular season, with BYU winning 77-73 at home on Jan. 6 and UNLV
returning the favor at the Thomas & Mack Center, 88-74, on Feb. 6.
The Rebels have defeated the Cougars, ranked No. 14 in the AP poll,
three times (2000, '07, '08) in the conference championship game.
It was the fifth straight win for the Rebels, who were swept by Utah (14-17) during the regular season.
UNLV opened up a 21-8 advantage on a three-pointer by junior guard
Tre'Von Willis with 6:12 left in the first half, but Utah surged back,
connecting on 3-of-4 attempts from three-point range in the final 2:05
to pull within 29-25 at the break.
The Utes trimmed the lead to 31-30 with less than two minutes gone in
the second half, but UNLV, which has averaged 74.4 points during its
five-game winning streak, responded with a 10-0 run.
The Rebels got 13 points and five rebounds from Willis and 10 points from sophomore forward Chace Stanback.
Junior guard Carlon Brown led Utah with 13 points, while senior guard
Luka Drca posted his 27th double-digit scoring game of the season with
7-foot-3 sophomore center David Foster, the conference's Defensive
Player of the Year who was questionable for the game with a sprained
left ankle, played 20 minutes scored six points. Senior forward Kim
Tillie, also nursing a sprained ankle, played 14 minutes and finished
with three points.
QUOTE OF NOTE
"I didn't know what to expect. I was just coming out here to do the best I possibly could, go out and shoot the ball well, be aggressive. Really, I was worried about getting that first win, no matter how we did it. I don't care if we scored, had to pass all the time or whatever it was. I
was just worried about getting the win, getting to the second round,
proving our team, that we could win this tournament." ---- BYU senior
guard Jimmer Fredette, who set a MWC Tournament single-game scoring
record with 45 points and also eclipsed the mark for free throws
attempted and free throws made (23-of-24) in a quarterfinal win over
UNLV LEADS AT HALF
First-team all-conference selection Tre'Von Willis had five points and three rebounds and No. 3-seeded UNLV held No. 6-seeded Utah scoreless for more than four minutes to build a 29-25 lead at the half of tonight's MWC men's basketball tournament quarterfinal game at the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas.
With the game tied 8-8, UNLV, which boasts the top scoring defense in the conference (63.0 ppg), went on a 13-0 run in which it held the Utes without a point for 4:11.
Utah, however, which swept the Rebels during the regular season, surged back, connecting on 3-of-4 attempts from three-point range in the final two minutes.
Ute 7-foot-3 sophomore center David Foster, the conference's Defensive Player of the Year who was questionable for the game with a sprained left ankle, played 11 minutes in the first half and scored six points. Teammate Kim Tillie, also nursing a sprained ankle, played eight minutes and had one point.
Senior guard Jimmer Fredette set a MWC Men's Basketball Tournament record with 45 points and No. 2-seeded BYU rallied from a one-point halftime deficit to beat No. 7-seeded TCU 95-85 Thursday night in a men's quarterfinal game at the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas.
Fredette, the conference's leading scorer at 20.6 points per game, poured in 30 in the second half to surpass the 40-point mark for the second time this season. He eclipsed the tournament's single-game scoring mark of 35 set by UNLV's Lou Kelly in a game against New Mexico in 2002 and also established a single-game tournament record for free throws attempted and free throws made. He finished 23-of-24 from the line,besting the mark of UNLV's Ricky Morgan, who hit18-of-19 against Wyoming in 2005.
Fredette has had six games of 30 or more points this season and 19 games of 20 or more. He set a single-game BYU scoring record with 49 points in a 99-69 rout at Arizona in December.
TCU (13-19), which dropped a 107-77 decision to the Cougars just four days earlier, led 40-39 at the half but was unable to respond after BYU staged a 12-1 run with 12:17 left.
The Cougars, who set a school record with their 29th win of the season (29-4), also got 15 points from junior guard Jackson Emery.
The Horned Frogs had five players finish in double figures, led by sophomore guard Ronnie Moss' 22 points. Greg Hill had 15 points for TCU, while Edvinas Ruzgas and Nikola Cerina each had 12.
In its bid to upend No. 4 seeded San Diego State, No. 5 seed Colorado State hit 8-of-15 three-point shots. Conversely The Aztecs were 1-of-10 beyond the arc in their 72-71 win.
Said SDSU coach Steve Fisher: "I told (Colorado State coach) Tim Miles after the game, I said, 'We got lucky. Your team deserved to win.' Our team did not deserve to lose, but your team played with a fervor that I know you liked to see. I've been in this game long enough to know that things happen. We contested. Of the eight threes they made, seven of them we could not have guarded it better. They made hard shots."
TCU LEADS AT HALF
The No. 7-seeded TCU men's basketball team, having endured a 30-point loss to the same team just four days earlier, held a 40-39 lead over No. 2-seeded BYU at the half of Thursday night's MWC men's basketball championship quarterfinal game at the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas.
Horned Frog sophomore guard Ronnie Moss, a second-team all-conference pick, hit a running jumper in the lane with less than one second remaining to give TCU the advantage at the break. Moss, the conference leader in assists, led the Horned Frogs with 15 points in the opening 20 minutes.
BYU, ranked No. 14 in the AP
poll, led by eight with 9:17 left in the half, but TCU responded with an 11-1 run. Cougars senior guard Jimmer Fredette, the conference's scoring leader, had 15 first-half points.
BYU beat TCU 107-77 in the final game of the regular season for both teams.
QUOTE OF NOTE
"You know, these guys are going to represent the United States Air Force Academy in an unbelievable fashion. They do things beyond what most student athletes do. Sometimes it goes unrecognized by those outside of the field of athletics. They continue to amaze me with their sticktoitiveness." ---- Air Force men's basketball coach Jeff Reynolds, after his No. 9-seeded team was eliminated 65-59 Thursday by No. 1-seeded New Mexico in the MWC Tournament men's quarterfinals
AZTECS HOLD OFF RAMS
Junior guard D.J. Gay hit two free throws with 23.6 seconds left as No. 4-seeded San Diego State escaped with a 72-71 win over Colorado State at the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas.
The Rams (16-15) had two chances to tie in the waning seconds, but turned the ball over on their possession following Gay's free throws. Aztecs freshman guard Chase Tapley was fouled on the ensuing inbound pass, but missed the front end of a one-and-one with 5.6 seconds left. Tapley's miss was rebounded by Colorado State's Travis Franklin, but a desperation shot by Rams senior forward Travis Busch sailed wide of the backboard as the buzzer sounded.
Colorado State junior forward Andy Ogide, the team's leading scorer (11.9 ppg) and rebounder (6.6 rpg), was ejected from the game with 6:27 left in the first half after becoming involved in an altercation with Aztecs junior center Brian Carlwell and was whistled for an intentional technical foul. Ogide had six points and four rebounds.
San Diego State (23-8), who will face No. 1-seeded New Mexico in Friday's semifinals at 6 p.m. PT, had four players finish in double figures. Tapley, junior forward Malcolm Thomas and junior forward Billy White all had 15 points.
Junior guard Adam Nigon had a game-high 18 points for Colorado State, hitting 4-of-7 three pointers.
NEW ATTENDANCE RECORD
Thursday's afternoon session of the 2010 Conoco MWC Men's Basketball Championship established a new attendance record since the conference went to a nine-team format in 2006. The New Mexico-Air Force game and the San Diego State-Colorado State contest drew a combined 11,031 fans, eclipsing last year's mark of 10,586.
BYU'S ROSE AMONG FINALISTS
BYU men's basketball coach Dave Rose has been named a finalist for the 2010 Skip Prosser Award. All of the finalists have led their respective teams to 18 or more victories this season. Rose enters Thursday's MWC Tournament quarterfinal game against TCU with a 64-16 (.800) record in the MWC, the second-most wins and best winning percentage all-time in conference history. The No. 2-seeded Cougars (28-4) are a win removed from equaling a school record for victories in a season.
The other finalists include Northwestern's Bill Carmody; Pittsburgh's Jamie Dixon; Temple's Fran Dunphy; Loyola Marymount's Max Good; Xavier's Chris Mack; Sam Houston State's Bob Marlin; Utah State's Stew Morrill; Vanderbilt's Kevin Stallings; Maine's Ted Woodward; East Tennessee State's Murray Bartow; Portland's Eric Reveno; Butler's Brad Stevens; Wofford's Mike Young; Oakland's Greg Kampe; and Murray State's Billy Kennedy.
The award was established last year to honor recipients who not only achieve success on the court, but display moral integrity off of it as well. The award will be presented at the Final Four in Indianapolis on April 2.
AZTECS LEAD AT HALF
Freshman guard Chase Tapley, who missed the final regular season game because of a broken bone in his left (non-shooting) hand, scored 13 points in the opening 20 minutes Thursday as No. 4-seeded San Diego State built a 41-33 halftime lead against No. 6-seeded Colorado State in an MWC Men's Basketball Tournament quarterfinal game at the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas.
Colorado State junior forward Andy Ogide, the team's leading scorer (11.9 ppg) and rebounder (6.6 rpg), was ejected from the game with 6:27 remaining in the first half after becoming involved in an altercation with Aztecs junior center Brian Carlwell and being assessed an intentional technical foul. The Rams were whistled for three technical fouls in the first half.OGIDE EJECTED
Colorado State junior forward Andy Ogide, the team's leading scorer (11.9 ppg) and rebounder (6.6 rpg), was ejected from Thursday's MWC Men's Basketball Tournament quarterfinal game against San Diego State after becoming involved in an altercation with Aztecs junior center Brian Carlwell. As the two players contested for a loose ball, Ogide was whistled for an intentional technical foul against Carlwell, resulting in his ejection with 6:27 to go in the first half. TAPLEY, SHELLEY RETURN
San Diego State freshman guard Chase Tapley and sophomore guard Tyrone Shelley, both of whom missed their last two games because of a broken bone in their non-shooting hand, were on the court within the first five minutes of Thursday's MWC Men's Basketball Tournament quarterfinal game against Colorado State at the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas. Prior to his injury, Tapley had made 15 straight starts. Shelley has scored in double figures nine times this season.
NEW MEXICO ADVANCES
If Darington Hobson needed to provide any additional argument for being named the Mountain West Conference men's Player of the Year, the case he made Thursday was airtight.
Hobson, in line to become the first player to ever lead as New Mexico in scoring, rebounding and assists in the same season, posted his eighth double-double in nine games by scoring 28 points and pulling down 15 rebounds as the No. 1-seeded Lobos escaped a quarterfinal scare from No. 9-seeded Air Force 75-69 in a MWC Men's Basketball Tournament quarterfinal game at the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas.
Hobson, a 6-foot-7 junior guard who has 13 double-doubles this season, has scored 20 or more points in three straight games.
Air Force (10-21), which nearly upset New Mexico in Albuquerque before losing by three points on Feb. 20, closed to within 51-49 on a tip-in by forward Michael Lyons with 11:48 left. But the Falcons were repeatedly undone by Hobson, who scored 10 points in the final 11:23.
Junior guard Dairese Gary, who joined Hobson on this year's MWC first team, finished with 20 points for the Lobos as New Mexico (29-3) set a school record for wins in a season.
The Falcons, who won for just the second time in 17 games when they ousted No. 8-seeded Wyoming in Wednesday's first-round game, got a team-high 17 points from junior forward Tom Fow. The Air Force bench combined for 23 points.
HITCHIN' A RIDE
The family that thrives together, drives together.
While accolades are certainly not in short supply where the New Mexico men's basketball team is concerned this season, transportation, it would seem, is a bit harder to come by.
Upon the arrival of head coach Steve Alford in 2007, the Lobos were informed by their new mentor that they would heretofore be living in on-campus housing, The arrangement would put them on equal footing with their fellow students, with the possible exception of the latter group's ability to elevate along the baseline.
Today, the team's 12 players, as well as walk-on Kevin Nelson and UCLA transfer Drew Gordon, live in the Student Residence Center smack dab in the middle of the UNM campus.
And while the digs are fine, any mass commute presents a potential cause for concern. Of the Lobos' 12 players, only four --- Gordon, Nelson, sophomore forward A.J. Hardeman and senior guard Roman Martinez --- have cars.
San Diego State sophomore forward Tim Shelton was in uniform for Thursday's quarterfinal game against New Mexico but did not play. Shelton, who is out for the season after undergoing exploratory knee surgery on Feb. 3, has endured three major knee surgeries since arriving from Fresno Clovis West High in 2007.
FALCONS CLOSING FAST
With 9:20 left in the game No. 1-seeded New Mexico holds a 55-49 lead over No. 9-seeded Air Force in the first of four MWC Men's Basketball Championship quarterfinals. New Mexico led by nine with 14:04 to play in the first half, but the advantage was erased by an 8-0 run by the Falcons, who won for just the second time in 17 games when they ousted Wyoming in the first round. The Lobos, ranked No. 8 in both the Associated Press and ESPN/USA Today
Coaches polls, has won 14 straight. New Mexico's Darington Hobson, the conference's Player of the Year, has posted his eighth double-double in the last nine games.
The Mountain West Conference has set single-day attendance records for the first two days of the 2010 basketball championships. The event has drawn nearly 10,000 fans (9,739) in advance of Thursday's session, which features four men's quarterfinal games. Tuesday's attendance was 5,348. Although a final figure will not be available until the conclusion of the tournament on Saturday, pre-tournament ticket sales put the event on pace to set an all-time attendance record.
SDSU ADVANCES TO FACE BYU
Senior guard Quenese Davis scored a team-high 16 points and junior forward Jessika Bradley tied a MWC Tournament record with seven blocks as No. 3-seeded San Diego State ousted No. 6-seeded Wyoming 60-51 Wednesday night at the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas.
SDSU (19-10), which has finished as the tournament runner-up each of the past two seasons, advanced to face No. 2-seeded BYU in Friday's semifinals at 2:30 p.m. PT.
Junior forward Hillary Carlson posted her fifth double-double of the season for Wyoming (19-11), finishing with 25 points and 18 rebounds. Carlson's rebound total matched the tournament record established on Tuesday by UNLV's Jamie Smith.
Bradley nearly finished with a triple double. In addition to her seven blocks, she scored 11 points and grabbed 12 rebounds.
THE YOUNG AND THE FEARLESS
Freshman center Taryn Wicijowski continues to impress for Utah's No. 4-seeded women's team. The 6-foot-2 native of Regina, Sask., who leads all MWC freshman in scoring (14.1 ppg), finished with a game-high 22 points and had eight rebounds in the Utes' 51-45 overtime win against No. 5-seeded New Mexico on Wednesday. It was Wicijowski's eighth 20-point performance of the season and her second of the MWC Tournament. She scored 24 points in Utah's first-round victory over UNLV on Tuesday. Wicijowski scored Utah's first six points of the overtime session.
"In overtime I just got some great passes from my teammates," Wicijowski said. "Places where I couldn't get double-teamed."
The victory was Utah's eighth straight against New Mexico. All eight games have been decided by six points or less. The defending champion Utes (21-10) prevailed despite New Mexico shooting a tournament-record 72.7 percent (8-of-11) from three-point range. The Utes were 3-of-17 from beyond the arc.
UTAH SURVIVES IN OVERTIME
When mired in a slump, good shooters keep shooting.
Case in point: Utah's Kalee Whipple.
Whipple, the Utes' decorated senior forward, hit a three-pointer with 37.9 seconds left in overtime to propel No. 4-seeded Utah pastNo. 5-seeded New Mexico 51-45 Wednesday in a second-round MWC Women's Basketball Tournament game at the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas.
Defending champion Utah improved to 21-10, while New Mexico fell to 18-12.
Whipple, the conference's leading scorer at 17.2 points per game, battled through a nightmarish performance before coming through in overtime. Prior to her three-pointer, Whipple had gone 0-for-11 from the field and had contributed just two free throws. She finished with five points, matching a career low.
Freshman center Taryn Wicijowski scored Utah's first six points in overtime, giving the Utes a 44-41 advantage prior to Whipple's three-pointer.
Forward Eileen Weissmann finished with a team-high 15 points for New Mexico, while guard Sara Halasz added 14. Lobos standout senior guard Amy Beggin tied a season low with five points, connecting on just 1-of-11 shots from the floor. BEEN THERE, DONE THAT
And now on to bigger fish.
The Air Force men's basketball team, which had won just one MWC game this season and dropped 15 of 16 before knocking off Wyoming in Wednesday's first round of the MWC Tournament, now faces a task a tad more daunting --- finding a way to get past No. 1-seeded New Mexico.
Not that the Falcons' knees are necessarily knocking.
Less than three weeks ago, the No. 9-seeded Falcons nearly knocked off the then-No. 12-ranked Lobos at The Pit in Albuquerque. Air Force took a 56-55 lead on a basket by Grant Parker with 27.8 seconds left, but was unable to hang on. The Falcons' shot at redemption, however long, comes in Thursday's quarterfinals at noon.
"As I've said, being from the state of North Carolina, growing up in ACC country, people don't realize how good Mountain West basketball is," said Air Force coach Jeff Reynolds. "They don't understand the venues that make up the league, and The Pit may be the toughest place in the country. It's close. I've been fortunate enough to play at (Kentucky's) Rupp (Arena), at Duke, fortunate to coach at (North Carolina's) Dean Dome. The Pit and their fans, they challenge you. And I thought our kids showed great leadership; they showed tenacity.
"The game is going to be a little different (Thursday). We had a week off to prepare for New Mexico prior to that game. Coach (New Mexico coach Steve) Alford had a week off to prepare for us. So it will be a challenge. They're very, very talented."
New Mexico's point total against the Falcons represented its lowest of the season. And this time the teams will square off on a neutral court at the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas.
"You know, I think they had some shots that didn't go down that allowed us to stay in the game," Reynolds said. "And we made some really tough, contested threes. We were able to get the ball inside and score on different angles. It will be very difficult (Thursday) to control the tempo, just from the standpoint that they've had some time to prep for us."
MORE MIDCOURT MADNESS
The sponsor of a restaurant gift certificate giveaway may want to reconsider its contest requirements.
A promotion that features two fans from opposing teams taking shots from the free-throw line, three-point line and half-court, produced not only one sinking of a midcourt shot on Wednesday, but three. After Air Force cadet Ryan Gonzales connected from half-court during the Falcons' game against Wyoming, a Utah fan identified only as Jeremy duplicated the feat in the Utes' second-round women's game against New Mexico. Not to be outdone, Swoop, Utah's red-tailed hawk mascot, immediately followed the Utah fan's lead by hitting the third half-court shot of the day.
A UNITED FRONT
The Wyoming men's coaching staff sported blue pins on their lapels on Wednesday in support of the Autism Speaks Foundation, an advocacy group that serves as a source of funding for research into the causes and treatment of autism. Hayden Schroyer, 8, the son of Cowboys head coach Heath Schroyer, was diagnosed with autism at the age of 2.
DEJA VU PART DEUX
Need to get well in a hurry? If you're the Air Force men's basketball team, you simply schedule a postseason visit to the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas.
The No. 9-seeded Falcons, who entered the MWC Tournament having won just one conference game and having lost 15 of their last 16, left all that disappointment in the dust on Wednesday with a 59-40 first-round win over No. 8-seeded Wyoming.
It was a reprisal of last year's effort by the Falcons (10-20), who snapped a 17-game losing streak in the first round of the 2009 championship with a 71-67 win over Colorado State. Air Force, which had been 0-4 against Wyoming in conference tournament action, ended a MWC record 22-game regular-season conference losing streak earlier this season when it beat the visiting Cowboys 70-63 on Jan. 30. The win marked the Falcons' second-largest margin of victory this season.
Senior forward Tony Parker led Air Force with 15 points, finishing in double figures for the 16th time this season. Freshman guard Desmar Jackson scored a team-high 15 points for Wyoming, which finished the season 10-21.
A GROWING TREND
MWC men's basketball teams are 5-1 against ranked non-conference opponents this season, a distinction the league has never enjoyed. New Mexico, the MWC Tournament's No. 1 seed and regular-season champion owns three of the five victories, having defeated No. 20/24 Texas Tech on Dec. 29, No. 16/18 Texas A&M on Dec. 12 and then-No. 25 California on Dec. 2. The conference's other wins against ranked non-conference opponents were posted by Utah vs. then-No. 20/21 Illinois on Nov. 27, and a 76-71 victory by UNLV against then-No. 16 Louisville on Nov. 8.
The conference's basketball success comes on the heels of a football season in which the MWC claimed the 2009-10 Bowl Challenge Cup after sending five teams into postseason action and finishing with a 4-1 (.800) mark. The Bowl Challenge Cup was created by ESPN in 2002 as a competition for the conferences in the FBS during the college bowl season. In order to win the trophy, a conference must have the highest win percentage with a minimum of three teams from that conference participating in the postseason.
With his team having suffered through an injury-plagued season that saw seven players combine to miss 59 games, Air Force men's basketball coach Jeff Reynolds may want to consider adding Ryan Gonzales to the roster.
During the first half of Wednesday's first-round game between the No. 9-seeded Falcons and No. 8-seeded Wyoming, two students from each school were randomly selected to take part in a shooting contest. The contest required making a basket from the free-throw line, three-point line and mid-court. After hitting nothing but net on his first attempt from three-point range, Gonzales did the same from mid-court on his third attempt.
Gonzales made the trip to the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas as part of a group at the academy known as "Section 8." Members of "Section 8" are considered the most diehard fans in the Cadet Wing, and must be in good academic standing to be selected to the group.
The kicker? Gonzales, a senior, spent the last four years as an offensive lineman with the Falcons' football team.
FALCONS' DUAL VICTORY
Air Force's success on the basketball court didn't represent its only victory on Wednesday. The Academy also was rewarded for finishing first among the MWC's nine member institutions in the fifth annual Mountain West Conference Rebuilding Lives Blood Drive. The event connects athletes with their community and displays the importance of donating blood. The goal of all nine schools is to compete against each other to see which institution can collect the most blood donations. The winner of the challenge annually is presented an award at the MWC Tournament. Air Force won the competition after having donated a conference record 150 pints of blood.
GET THE MOUNTAIN WEST WHEREVER YOU ARE!
Mountain West Conference television partner CBS College
Sports is extending its reach via freeview that will put it in over 56
million homes through April 5, the night of the men's Division I Men's
Basketball Championship game. Thus far, 18 affiliate partners have
signed on to be a part of the free preview, accounting for
approximately 18 million additional subscribers. Affiliate partners
include Dish Network, Verizon FiOS, Insight, Mediacom, Suddenlink and
RCN. There's also wider participation from Comcast, Time Warner, Cox
Communications and Bright House Networks systems, among others. The
free preview allows affiliates to open its signal to all customers,
providing more fans with an opportunity to watch the network's
extensive March Madness coverage. The show recaps tournaments with
scores, news and analysis. All told, CBS College will present some 80
hours of coverage complementing CBS's presentation of live games.
The trio of MWC broadcast partners, The Mtn.-MountainWest Sports Network, CBS College, and VERSUS, are available nationwide. For more information, visit www.TheMWC.com, or contact your local television provider.
Meanwhile, the Mountain West Radio Network, which is
streaming the broadcasts of all 16 MWC Tournament games on Live
365.com, also can also be heard nationally. Each of the men's basketball tournament contests will be available on SIRIUS Satellite Radio Channel 90.
WYOMING HOLDS OFF UNLV
Wyoming, which held an 11-point lead with less than two minutes gone in the second half, withstood a furious rally by UNLV to deal the Lady Rebels a 60-55 defeat Tuesday night in the opening round of the MWC Women's Basketball Tournament at the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas. The No. 6-seeded Cowgirls will face No. 3-seeded San Diego State in Wednesday's quarterfinals at 7 p.m. PT. Wyoming, paced by redshirt junior guard Aubrey Vandiver's 24 points, improved to 19-10. The Cowgirls split with San Diego State during the regular season, falling 65-50 in San Diego before rebounding for a 63-51 win in Laramie on Feb. 10. UNLV, which finished 13-18, was positively relentless on the boards, collecting a conference tournament record 53 rebounds. Sophomore forward Jamie Smith's 18 rebounds surpassed the previous tournament mark of 17, set by former Lady Rebel Linda Frohlich in 2002.
GOING TO THE 'WHIP'
Utah senior Kalee Whipple's 16 points and 12 rebounds in the Utes' opening-round win over Air Force on Tuesday represented her seventh double-double of the season and the 24th of her career, a mark tying her for fourth all-time in MWC history.Whipple also set a first-round record with seven assists and tied a career-high and set a season-high with 12 rebounds. Her previous season high was 11 rebounds on three occasions. She had 12 rebounds against Air Force on February 27, 2007. Whipple earned her second consecutive first-team all-conference accolade this season, the fourth such honor of her career. She was named to the third team as a freshman in 2006-07 and second team all-league in 2007-08.
WYOMING GRABS HALFTIME LEAD
Having dropped a 78-73 decision at UNLV just three days
earlier, No. 6-seeded Wyoming jumped out to a 28-21 halftime lead over
the Lady Rebels Tuesday night in the opening round of the MWC
Tournament at the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas. Cowgirls
junior guard Aubrey Vandiver led all first-half scorers with 11 points,
while freshman guard Kelli Thompson paced UNLV with six. Lady
Rebels sophomore forward Jamie Smith had 11 rebounds in the opening 20
FUTURE FLUSH WITH PROMISE
How bright is the future for Mountain West Conference men's
basketball? Of the 28 players receiving MWC postseason honors, no fewer
than 24 are underclassmen. The entire all-conference first team was
comprised of underclassmen, including San Diego State's Kawhi Leonard,
who became the first freshman in MWC history to earn first-team honors.
Leonard also was tabbed the conference's Freshman of the
Year. Statistically, eight of the conference's top 10 scorers are
underclassmen, as are seven of the top 10 rebounders. Underclassmen
also dominate the assists category, with only one senior ranked among
the top 10.
NEW MEXICO WOMEN ADVANCE
Sophomore guard Sara Halasz scored a game-high 20 points and tied for team honors with six rebounds as the No. 5-seeded New Mexico women's basketball team turned back No. 8-seeded Colorado State 67-54 in a first-round MWC Tournament game at the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas. First-team all-conference guard Amy Beggin added 18 points and grabbed five rebounds for the Lobos (18-11), who are bidding for their sixth tournament title. Colorado State, which trailed 35-28 at intermission, had three players finish in double figures, led by sophomore forward Chatilla von Grinsven's 16 points and six rebounds. PAR FOR THE COURSE
The Utah women's basketball team reached 20 wins for the 20th time in head coach Elaine Elliott's career in opening the MWC Tournament with the Utes' 63-40 victory over Air Force on Tuesday.
MORE THAN JUST MONKEY BUSINESS
New Mexico women's basketball fan John Krist, along with his stuffed monkey, Herman, take in the action during the Lobos' opening-round game against Colorado State in the MWC Tournament on Tuesday. Krist said he wears the Viking helmet for good luck. LOBOS LEAD AT THE BREAK
No. 5-seeded New Mexico, which is bidding for its sixth MWC women's basketball tournament title since 2003, held a 35-28 lead over No. 8-seeded Colorado State in a first-round game Tuesday at the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas. In an opening 20 minutes that included five lead changes, the Lobos got 11 points from sophomore guard Sara Halasz. Ram sophomore forward Kim Mestdagh led all first-half scorers with eight points. DON'T TRY THIS AT HOME
It was clearly not the easiest of seasons for the Air Force women's team, who did not win a league contest in the 2009-10 season and was ousted Tuesday by Utah in the first round of the MWC Tournament. But while you may get the best of the Falcons on the court, matching them step-for-step off the hardwood is a feat few would envy and many would never consider. The following comes from Air Force assistant media relations director Nick Arseniak on a day in the life of senior forward Kathleen Schjodt, an aeronautical engineering major and three-time MWC Scholar Athlete nominee:
6:30 a.m. Wake up
7:25-7:40 Mandatory breakfast
7:50-8:43 Introduction to Aircraft Design or Introduction to Aeronautics
8:50-9:43 Second hour of Introduction to Aircraft Design or Advanced Aerodynamics
9:50-10:43 English or extra instruction/homework time
10:50-11:43 Leadership course or Composites
12:00 p.m.-12:30 March/Parade to mandatory lunch (Monday, Wednesday, Friday)
12:00-12:30 or 12:45-1:15 Mandatory lunch
12:30-1:15 Cadet Professional Military Education class (Tuesday, Thursday)
2:00-4:00 Practice, weights, watching film
7:10-7:40 Military Call to Quarters (roll call, briefings, etc.)
10:45-7:00 a.m. Lights out IT'S A LONG WAY DOWN
Being the No. 1 men's seed in the MWC Tournament certainly carries a measure of prestige, but it's historically been accompanied by a greater degree of peril. Only twice in conference history has the No. 1 seed captured the title, the latest coming in 2006 when San Diego State needed overtime to hold off No. 7-seeded Wyoming. The No. 1 seed has twice lost its opening game in the tournament. SEVENTH TIME A CHARM?
San Diego State's men's team, the No. 4 seed in the 2010 MWC Tournament, has handed six straight losses to Colorado State. However, CSU's last victory over the Aztecs came in the tournament in 2007, when the Rams beat SDSU 69-64. Colorado State is seeded No. 5 in this year's tournament. The Rams have been seeded higher only once, that coming when they were positioned at No. 4 in 2000. SDSU and CSU meet at 2:30 p.m. in Thursday's quarterfinals.UTAH WOMEN WIN OPENER
The No. 4-seeded Utah women's team opened defense of its 2009 MWC Tournament championship with a 63-40 win on Tuesday over No. 9-seeded Air Force at the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas. The Utes (20-10) will face the winner of the New Mexico-Colorado State game at 4:30 p.m. on Wednesday. New Mexico is the tournament's No. 5 seed, while Colorado State is seeded No. 8. The Utes got a game-high 24 points from forward Taryn Wicijowski and 12 from senior guard Kalee Whipple against Air Force, which has never beaten Utah since the conference's inaugural season in 1999-00. The Falcons were paced by 12 points from forward Kathleen Schjodt. LOFTY ASPIRATIONS
The No. 1-seeded and regular-season champion New Mexico men's team, ranked No. 8 in both the Associated Press
and ESPN/USA Today
Coaches polls, enters postseason play as the highest-ranked team in the history of the MWC. The conference has had six men's teams finish the season ranked in the Top 25 since its inaugural season, the highest being UNLV, which concluded the 2006-07 campaign ranked 14th in the ESPN/USA Today
Coaches poll. COACHES VS. CANCER
The men's head basketball coaches in the Mountain West Conference, in partner with the American Cancer Society, will present the 3rd Annual Coaches vs Cancer Las Vegas Golf Classic May 23-25. The event will kick off with a party at the Palms Casino Resort's Hardwood Suite, followed by two days of golf at the TPC Summerlin and Southern Highlands Golf Courses. For more information on how you can get involved and spend three days with some of the nation's top basketball coaches visit cancer.org
or call 702-891-9012. MAKE A DIFFERENCE
The Goodie Two Shoes Foundation provides disadvantaged children and children in crisis with new shoes, socks and more. Please help the Mountain West Conference raise money for the Goodie Two Shoes Foundation with the Pennies for Piggies Change Drive, taking place throughout this year's basketball tournament. Drop your change in the banks located at the concession stands or present your donation to any cheerleader. For more information, please log on to goodietwoshoes.org
. THE OPENING TIP
In the opening game of the 2010 Conoco Mountain West Conference Basketball Championships, at the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas, the No. 4-seeded Utah women's team built a 21-13 halftime lead over No. 9-seeded Air Force. The defending champion Utes, paced by eight first-half points from guard Janita Badon, have lost only one first-round game, that coming in 2002 when they fell to runner-up UNLV. Since then, Utah has failed to reach the semifinals only once. Guard Raimee Beck had five first-half points for Air Force, which is looking for its first victory in the tournament since 2007.
Redemption figures to serve as more than a modicum of
motivation at this year's MWC Basketball Championships, particularly on the men's
side. In every instance save Wednesday's play-in game between No.
8-seeded Wyoming and No. 9-seeded Air Force, the quarterfinal
pairings feature four match-ups that all culminated in sweeps during the
regular season. Awaiting the Wyoming-Air Force winner is No. 1-seeded
New Mexico. The Lobos bested the Cowboys by an average of 12 points in
the teams' two meetings during the regular season, and defeated the
Falcons by an average of 13. Nonetheless, both Wyoming and Air
Force also took New Mexico to the wire, with the Cowboys dropping a
70-68 decision in Laramie on Jan. 16 and and the Falcons falling 59-56
in Albuquerque on Feb. 20.
Perhaps the most intriguing of the quarterfinal matchups pits
No. 6-seeded Utah against No. 3-seeded UNLV. Defending MWC Tournament
champion Utah was the only team other than New Mexico to beat the
Rebels at the Thomas & Mack Center this year, winning 73-69 on Jan.
16. The Utes reprised that effort at the Huntsman Center in Salt Lake
City with a 66-61 victory on Feb. 17. The No. 6 seed has defeated the No. 3 seed in each of the past five tournaments, and seven times in the tournament's 10-year history.
Other quarterfinal matchups on Thursday pair No. 2-seeded BYU
against No. 7-seeded TCU, and No. 4-seeded San Diego State
against No. 5-seeded Colorado State.
IT'S TOUGH AT THE TOP
In the previous 10 MWC women's basketball tournaments, only four times has the top-seeded team taken home the crown. Utah, who looks to defend its 2009 championship, was the first to do so since 2005, when it topped San Diego State in last year's title game. Three No. 1-seeded teams were
ousted in semifinals, two were knocked out in the championship game
another was sent home after the second round. Three women's championships have been claimed by a team seeded No. 3 or lower.
As this year's No. 1 seed, TCU captured its first
regular-season MWC title since joining the league in 2005.
The Horned Frogs have never reached the tournament title game,
advancing to the semifinals as a No. 4 seed in 2006 and as a No. 2 seed
Of particular interest could be Wednesday's quarterfinal
matchup between No. 3-seeded San Diego State and the winner of
Tuesday's first-round game between No. 6-seeded Wyoming and No.
7-seeded UNLV. San Diego State, who was predicted the favorite in the MWC preseason poll, enters the tournament having won three straight,
after dropping four of five. The skid included consecutive losses at
Wyoming (Feb. 10) and at UNLV (Feb. 13).
As of Monday, Joe Lunardi, the St. Joseph's University vice
president who doubles as a "bracketologist" for ESPN, had four MWC
men's teams receiving bids to the NCAA Tournament. Lunardi , who two
years ago correctly pegged 63 of the tournament's 65 teams, has
regular-season conference champion New Mexico as a No. 3 seed; BYU as a
No. 4 seed; UNLV as a No. 8 seed; and San Diego State as a No. 13 seed.
ESPN's Charlie Creme, Lunardi's counterpart on the women's
side, has just one MWC team --- TCU --- receiving a bid. The MWC has
had at least three women's teams receive bids to the NCAA
Tournament each of the past five years.
Meanwhile, ESPN college basketball analyst Andy Katz said
yesterday that the New Mexico men could be worthy of receiving a No. 2 seed
should it win the MWC Tournament.
FACES BEHIND THE SCENES
Putting together a college basketball tournament consisting of
16 games over the course of five days is no small feat, requiring the
efforts of a small army.
Twelve students from Brock University in St. Catharines,
Ontario, Canada, have traveled more than 2,000 miles to assist the Mountain West in the staging of this year's championships. The students, who are all
majoring in sports management, are making their third consecutive
appearance at the tournament. Students from Brock have also assisted
at NCAA Tournament games in recent seasons, working first- and
second-round games in San Jose, Calif., in 2007 and in Denver in 2008.
The MWC also is receiving assistance from students at Colorado
State (Nic Hallisey, Alan Rakowski, Dani Musso and Matt Pucak), New
Mexico (Kara Dana), UNLV (Kristin Conder), Minnesota (Katie Hollimon)
and Notre Dame (Kellie Sciacca).
Yet if there's an award for service longevity, it belongs to
Mike and Lydia Lucero, a couple from Albuquerque, N.M., who have been
voluntering their time since the initial conference tournament in 2000.
The Lucero's daughters, Aylene, 8, and Antonya, 4, were still trying to
get the best of their father and volunteer Scott Jones in a game of
H-O-R-S-E on the court at the Thomas & Mack Center on Monday night.
Jones, who also resides in Albuquerque, has served as a volunteer for
Other volunteers on hand for this year's tournament include
Rich Feller, a professor at Colorado State; Feller's son, Chris, who
attends Rocky Mountain High School in Fort Collins, Colo.; and Craig
Buchanan, also of Fort Collins. Joining the crew at this year's championships are former Air Force
Academy sports information director Dave Kellogg and Colorado Springs,
Colo., resident Brian Sherman.
Many people have called wanting to know where to buy 2010 Conoco Mountain West Conference Basketball Championships tickets now that their institution may have shut down all-session ticket sales for next week. With overall tournament ticket sales setting new records across the league, the best place to purchase tickets for next week is through ticket outlet UNLVTickets in Las Vegas. There are various ways you can order:
Online - UNLVTickets.com
By Phone - (702) 739-FANS(3267) or (866) 388-FANS(3267)
Various Ticket Outlets in Las Vegas: http://www.unlvtickets.com/info/outlets.php Thomas & Mack Center Box Office
Monday - Friday
10:00 am to 6:00 pm
10:00 am to 4:00 pm
Closed except on event days
With the significant demand for tickets to the championships, we encourage fans to purchase their tickets prior to arrival at Thomas & Mack Center, as walk-up lines may be longer than they have been in the past, and we know in the past these lines have been long at certain times of the championships.
Great seats are still available. We are looking forward to hosting everyone at the 2010 Conoco Mountain West Conference Men's and Women's Basketball Championships!
Mick McGrane has covered the Mountain West since the league's inception in 1999. He spent 12 years at the San Diego Union-Tribune, where he served as the beat writer for San Diego State football and men's basketball. He currently represents the MW as a member of the Football Writers Association of America All-America Committee and is a member of the U.S. Basketball Writers Association. McGrane serves as senior writer to the Mountain West, providing readers with exclusive, in-depth information about the Conference by highlighting its 10 member institutions and contributing feature stories on student-athletes that participate in the league's 18 sponsored sports.
Have a question for Mick? E-mail him at mick@TheMWC.com or check him out on Twitter @MWCMick.
Mark Knudson is a Colorado State journalism school graduate and a 12-year veteran of professional baseball. During his playing career, Mark pitched for three major league teams, including the Colorado Rockies, where he was the first Colorado native to play for the hometown team. He recorded wins over three of the four legendary pitchers who make up the 4,000 strikeout club: Nolan Ryan, Randy Johnson and Roger Clemens. His win over Ryan came for the Milwaukee Brewers on Opening Day in 1991.
Since his retirement, Mark has been a feature writer and columnist for Mile High Sports, a radio talk show host and TV analyst for numerous sports media outlets. For the past six years, he was a columnist and baseball analyst for The Mtn., along with being one of Colorado's six Heisman Trophy voters.
Have a question for Mark? Visit him at ElevationSportsNetwork.com or check him out on Twitter @MarkKnudson41.