A week ago, San Diego State was beaten by No. 14 Nevada by nearly 30 points. Friday, it was a different story. The Aztecs upset the Wolf Pack in a 65-56 win at the Mountain West Conference Tournament semifinals in Las Vegas.
This wasn’t the first time SDSU (21-12, 11-7 MW) pulled an upset against Nevada (29-4, 15-3). Last month, the Aztecs defeated the Wolf Pack at the sold-out Viejas Arena, prompting the student section to chant, “Overrated.”
Friday’s win was reminiscent of last year when SDSU upset then-No. 22 Nevada in the semifinals to reach the Mountain West title game.
“Give San Diego State a ton of credit; I thought they played really well,” Wolf Pack coach Eric Musselman said. “Devin Watson had a really good game for them offensively. Having said all that, (I’m) really, really proud of our team’s effort. I thought we played as hard as we played all season long.”
The Aztecs were leading 34-29 at half time and kept the momentum going at the start of the second half with Watson’s back-to-back 3, followed by a Jeremy Hemsley layup.
After Hemsley’s score, the Aztecs were up 42-29. But the Wolf Pack are ranked 14th for a reason. Nevada responded back with an 18-4 run that ended with a pair of scores from the Martin twins.
Caleb Martin made a dunk that was assisted by Cody Martin. After Matt Mitchell missed a 3-point jumper, Caleb rebounded for a Cody Martin layup. That gave Nevada a 47-46 lead with 10:03 to go.
“They play hard,” Aztec coach Brian Dutcher said. “The greatest quality of Nevada basketball is their toughness and they showed it again tonight.”
After the point, both teams traded leads until around the five-minute mark. Hemsley tied the score at 51-51 on a jumper with 5:11 left in the game. The Wolf Pack were held scoreless for nearly seven minutes when the Aztecs went on a 14-5 run for the win.
“I knew we were still in the game,” Watson said. “It’s not like we were down six or seven and the game was getting away from us. … We just played with a lot of confidence. We didn’t lose control. We were always in control, we felt like.”
Watson led SDSU with 20 points, including four 3-pointers. Jalen McDaniels followed with 12 points and 10 rebounds.
The Aztecs will face Utah State game in the title match Saturday. Win that and San Diego State will earn a berth to the NCAA Tournament.
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