Saturday, March 11, 2017
New Mexico State: 2016-17 Western Athletic Men's Basketball Champions
LAS VEGAS -- New Mexico State overcame a 13-point deficit in the second half to defeat Cal State Bakersfield 70-60 on Saturday night and win the Western Athletic Conference Tournament title for the fifth time in the past six years.
The Aggies (28-5) used a 21-2 run in the second half after Bakersfield (22-9), the WAC regular-season champion, took a 39-26 lead.
But New Mexico State went on a 3-point binge, getting long-distance baskets from Ian Baker and Chancellor Ellis to pull the Aggies into a 41-41 tie. Ellis' 3 with 9:11 left put New Mexico State ahead for good.
Eli Chuha led New Mexico State with 16 points, and Baker had 15, including going 3 of 4 from beyond the arc.
The Aggies were 6 of 12 on 3-pointers in the second half.
Dedrick Basile scored 17 points to lead Cal State Bakersfield, which might have worn down after playing a four-overtime game the night before, beating Utah Valley 81-80. It held a 29-20 lead at halftime and seemed comfortably in front.
Bakersfield's tenacious defense allowed the Roadrunners to pull away in the first half, holding the Aggies to just two baskets in the first 17 1/2 minutes of the game and forcing 12 turnovers in that span. Meantime, the Roadrunners made 12 of 25 shots and had nine steals.
But New Mexico State stormed back in the second half, using its big run to get back to the NCAA Tournament.
New Mexico: This win might have been sweet revenge for last season's WAC title game. The top-seeded Aggies lost at the buzzer when Basile made a 3-pointer at the buzzer.
New Mexico State: The Aggies earned the conference's automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament and await to see Sunday where they'll be headed.
Cal State Bakersfield: The Roadrunners will wait to see if they get an at-large berth Sunday for the NCAA Tournament.