LAS VEGAS (AP) — Jaedon LeDee scored 15 points and Matt Bradley added 14 to lead No. 20 San Diego State to a 62-57 victory over Utah State in Saturday’s Mountain West Tournament championship game.
The Aztecs (27-6) claimed their seventh tournament title, and second in three years. This also was their conference-record 15th appearance in the title game.
San Diego State clinched the conference’s bid to the NCAA Tournament, though it was never in doubt the Aztecs would be selected. What kind of seed San Diego State receives remains to be seen.
Utah State (26-8) also figures to be headed to the tournament when the selections are announced Sunday.
This was the fourth time in the last five years the teams have played each other in the Mountain West championship game. Utah State won the 2019 and 2020 title games, and San Diego State went home with the 2021 trophy. Boise State temporarily ended the monopoly last season by beating the Aztecs 53-52.
Neither team shot well Saturday, with San Diego State making 33.3% of its shots compared to 37.1% for the Aggies.
No San Diego State players reached double-figure scoring other than Ledee and Mitchell. For Utah State, Steven Ashworth scored 13 points and Trevin Dorius 12.
The Aggies were hot early, however, going on a 12-2 run in the first half to take a 26-15 lead with 6:57 left, but then went cold. They failed to make another field goal until 1:43 into the second half, but somehow didn’t fall behind during that stretch.
But the Aztecs got close, and eventually went back and forth with Utah State in the second half. San Diego State nearly put away the game by going up 53-46 with 3:03 left, but the Aggies got back to within three points with 48 seconds remaining and two points with 30.3 seconds to go.
San Diego State closed out the game at the free throw line by making 9 of 10 free throws in the final 43 seconds.
THE BIG PICTURE
Utah State: The Aggies entered the game fourth nationally in 3-point percentage at 40.1, but struggled badly against San Diego State’s long, athletic defense. Utah State made just 4 of 24 3-point attempts.
San Diego State: The Aztecs come in waves. Nine players were in the game, and each was on the floor for at least 16 minutes and eight at least 19. All nine scored and collected rebounds.
Utah State: The Aggies have a NET ranking of No. 18, so it would be quite a surprise if they aren’t selected to the NCAA Tournament.
San Diego State: A potential six seed could be coming San Diego State’s way, but the Aztecs also might have worked their way into a No. 5.