RENO, Nev.-The New Mexico State men’s basketball team won the 2010 WAC Tournament Championship after a 69-63 victory over Utah State, Saturday, March 13, at the Lawlor Events Center in Reno, Nev. The Aggies earned an automatic berth into the NCAA Tournament and are making their 18th appearance in school history.
The Aggies improved to 22-11 and are going to the Big Dance for the first time since 2007 and in head coach Marvin Menzies’ tenure. Junior guard Jahmar Young was named WAC Tournament Most Valuable Player after a team-high 19 points. Sophomore forward Troy Gillenwater also earned all-tournament team honors following a 15-point showing. Senior guard Jonathan Gibson was also in double-figures with 14 points.
Utah State scored first and the Aggies tied the game five times before taking its first lead of the contest, 19-18, on a fast break layup from freshman forward Tyrone Watson at the 6:23 mark.
On the Aggies’ next possession, Gillenwater hit a turnaround jumper at 5:33 that started a span of six straight points from the Boston native. The Aggies finished an 11-3 run with 4:05 to play with a Gillenwater layup to give NM State a 25-21 advantage.
Utah State regained a 26-25 lead before Young hit NM State’s first 3-pointer of the game in transition with 1:35 before the break for a 28-26 NM State halftime lead. Gillenwater had a team-high eight points while Young added seven. Both Gibson and junior forward Wendell McKines supplied four points in the first 20 minutes of action.
Utah State jumped to a 37-32 lead in the second half but the Aggies responded with six consecutive points and a jumper from Watson gave the Aggies the advantage again, 38-37, at the 14:50 mark.
The Aggies tied the game at 44-44 with a Gibson jumper at 9:54 and then at 53-53 after a steal and a dunk from sophomore center Hamidu Rahman at 6:29. Gibson made a jump shot on the next possession with 5:19 left to give NM State a 55-53 lead and the Aggies didn’t trail again.
Utah State evened the score at 55-55 with 4:45 to play and then Gillenwater sank a 3-pointer before a floater from Young gave the Aggies a five-point lead, 60-55, at the 3:56 mark. Young pushed the advantage to 63-57 with a free throw at 2:26 for NM State. The Aggies held on and sophomore guard Hernst Laroche sealed the win with a pair of free throws with 14 seconds to play to give NM State its second WAC Tournament title in school history.