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New Mexico Wins Mountain West Championship with 68-61 Win Over San Diego State

by Steve Kirkland

LAS VEGAS, Nev. – The New Mexico men’s basketball team captured the 2024 Mountain West Championship, downing defending champion San Diego State 68-61 in Saturday’s final at the Thomas & Mack Center. The Lobos (26-9) used an 8-0 run in the final minutes to take control of a tie game and down the Aztecs (24-10) to become the first school in conference history to win the title by winning four games in four days.

Tournament MVP Jaelen House scored a game-high 28 points to lead the Lobos to the victory. Jamal Mashburn, Jr. added 21 points, while JT Toppin had his 12th double-double of the season with 13 points and 11 rebounds. Mashburn and Toppin joined House on the All-Tournament Team.

The Lobos used a strong offensive start to take a 10-7 lead after the opening four minutes of play. A 6-0 UNM run gave them a 16-8 lead with 12:30 left in the half. The Lobos led 18-14 at the midway point of the half, but a cold stretch of shooting allowed SDSU to cut the margin to 18-16 with 9:00 to go. Back-to-back triples from House pushed the margin to 24-16 with 8:00 to go before another three forced a SDSU timeout with 6:37 to go with a 27-18 UNM lead. The Lobo lead grew to 32-18 with 4:30 left as UNM went on a 14-2 run after the Aztecs had closed to within two. UNM would lead by 14 with 2:40 left in the half before the Aztecs used a late surge to close to 36-30 at the break. House (15 pts) and Mashburn (13 pts) combined for 28 of UNM’s 36 first half points.

In the second half, the Lobos scored the first five points over the first five minutes to regain a double-digit lead at 41-30. SDSU used a 14-2 run to close to take its first lead at 44-43 with 12:00 to play before UNM retook the lead, 47-46, at the midway point. The teams traded the lead for several possessions before the Aztecs took a 54-51 lead with 8:00 to go. UNM would tie the game, 57-57, with 5:45 to play and the game was tied at 59-59 with 3:50 to go. A Toppin putback with 2:29 left beat the shot clock to give UNM a 61-59 lead. After Joseph made a free throw, a House layup-and-1 gave UNM a 65-59 lead with 1:20 to play. After a defensive stop, a Toppin bucket with 36 seconds left capped the 8-0 run to give the Lobos an eight-point lead as the closed out the win.

• New Mexico won its fifth Mountain West championship (2005, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2024)
• Over 160 minutes of play in the tournament, the Lobos led for 145:54 and trailed for only 7:20
• House scored 92 points in the Mountain West Tournament, setting a school record for the most points by a Lobo in a conference tournament (breaking Danny Granger’s record of 75 in 2005
• Mashburn had his first 20-point game this season against a Mountain West opponent
• Saturday’s final was the ninth time both House and Mashburn scored 20 points in the same game, most by a Lobo duo over the past 40 years

“I am really proud of the guys in our locker room. They had so much belief the whole year. They came into this tournament playing confidently and we won in a variety of ways. No one has ever won this tournament with four games in four nights. We never looked fatigued. San Diego State is a program that we have a lot of respect for. We knew we would have to raise our level of toughness and we did that. I am happy for our amazing fan base. I’m happy for the state of New Mexico and the city of Albuquerque because I know how much this means to them. They love college basketball.” – Richard Pitino

The Lobos earned the Mountain West’s automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament and they will await Sunday’s announcement of the bracket. The selection show will air at 4 p.m. MT on CBS.