Utah State sneaked into the next round of the Mountain West Tournament after winning 91-83 against New Mexico. The game was close for most of the night but the No. 2-seed Aggies made stops and shots when they needed them the most.
The score was tied 16 times and the lead changed 19 times. The largest lead for either team was eight points. With two minutes remaining, UNM was only down by two points.
Emotions ran high with officials making calls that did not sit well with Lobo fans or New Mexico head coach Paul Weir. During a timeout in the second period, the coach got a technical for going outside the coaching box to argue a call. To this, Weir said he thought that since the game wasn’t going on, this wouldn’t be a problem.
The Aggies got 45 free throw attempts while the Lobos had 21. One particular call the caused a big reaction was when the referees gave UNM’s Carlton Bragg a foul when it looked like it should’ve actually been a charge.
Here’s the horrible call against Carlton Bragg. If the Lobos are going to win, they’ll have to beat the refs too. #GoLobos pic.twitter.com/rn2AHrorMI
— John Benavidez (@ProfBenavidez) March 15, 2019
Weir, as upset as he was, said he didn’t talk to his team about the calls.
“I didn’t bring them up once to the guys. I don’t,” Weir said. “I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t just crushed. It was 6-0 and I was mesmerized by what I was watching. But it’s never something I would take to the guys. That’s something they don’t need to concern themselves with.”
While the game didn’t go in the Lobos’ favor, they did provide a good game for fans. Redshirt sophomore Vance Jackson had another good postseason game and led all scorers with 25 points. Sam Merrill led Utah State with 23 points.
The Lobo press caused Utah State to collect 24 turnovers throughout the night. This is quite significant because the Aggies entered the day averaging 12.4 turnovers per game.
Seniors Dane Kuiper and Anthony Mathis were present during the postgame press conference. Kuiper had one message to Lobo fans.
“Never give up on anybody no matter how things are going. We love the fans, they came out to every game. I can’t thank them enough,” he said.