LAS VEGAS – Utah State fell short in its quest to become just the second team ever to three-peat as the Mountain West tournament champion.
No. 19 San Diego State, the top seed in the MW tournament, earned the league’s automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament with a 68-57 victory over second-seeded Utah State on Saturday afternoon at the Thomas & Mack Center.
Matt Mitchell, the MW Player of the Year, led the Aztecs with 14 points against the Aggies (20-8) and was tabbed the MVP of the tourney after averaging 15.3 points and 5.3 rebounds per game across the three contests. This marks SDSU’s sixth overall Mountain West tournament title, and its first since 2018.
Junior center Neemias Queta led Utah State with 18 points, six rebounds and three blocks as he was named to the all-tournament team. It snapped Queta’s streak of eight straight games with a double-double, which was the third-longest streak in MW history behind Utah’s Andrew Bogut and San Diego State’s Kawhi Leonard, who both had streaks of nine games.
With his three blocks against the Aztecs, Queta broke his own single-season school record as he now has 90 swats this season and 214 in his career, which ranks as the fourth-most in Mountain West history. It is the 21st time this year and 54th time in his career he has had multiple blocks in a game.
Justin Bean was the only other Aggie to join Queta in double-figure scoring against the Aztecs as he had 12 points and six rebounds. The junior forward was also named to the all-tournament team, joining Queta, Mitchell, SDSU’s Jordan Schakel and Nevada’s Grant Sherfield.
With the loss, Utah State, which swept SDSU during the regular season, fell to 51-33 all-time in conference tournaments, including a 13-6 record in the MW. USU is now 10-7 all-time in championship games, which includes a 2-1 record in the MW.
The Aggies had a difficult time scoring the ball against the Aztecs, who held USU to just 37.3 percent shooting from the field (19-of-51), including a chilly 23.1 percent from 3-point land (3-of-13). Utah State did find success at the charity stripe, knocking down 84.2 percent of its free throws (16-of-19).
Freshman guard Rollie Worster and senior forward Alphonso Anderson added eight points for the Aggies, while redshirt junior guard Marco Anthony chipped in seven points, a game-high-tying eight rebounds and four assists.
San Diego State shot 44.8 percent on the night (26-of-58), including just 13.3 percent from beyond the arc (2-of-15), and 82.4 percent from the charity stripe (14-of-17).
This marked the third straight year that SDSU and USU have met in the championship game of the MW tournament, the first time in league history that the same two teams have played each other in three consecutive title games. The Aggies won the previous two matchups.
Furthermore, San Diego State handed Utah State head coach Craig Smith his first loss in the MW tournament. He is now 8-1 overall in the tourney.