San Diego State 73

(19-8, 12-3 MW)

New Mexico 66

(16-11, 7-7 MW)

    3:00 PM ET, February 25, 2006

    The Pit, Albuquerque, New Mexico

    1 2 T
    SDSU 31 4273
    UNM 31 3566

    Top Performers

    San Diego St: B. Heath 32 Pts, 3 Reb, 6 Ast, 2 Stl

    New Mexico: J. Box 17 Pts, 13 Reb, 3 Ast, 3 Stl, 2 Blk

    San Diego State 73, New Mexico 66

    ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) -- New Mexico forward Joel Box was terrific in the first half. San Diego State guard Brandon Heath was even better for 40 minutes.

    Heath hit a career-high eight 3-pointers, scored a season-high 32 points and had six assists Saturday as San Diego State beat New Mexico 73-66 to clinch at least a share of the Mountain West Conference regular season title.

    San Diego State (19-8, 12-3 MWC) took control when Heath scored 17 points -- including five 3s -- in the first six minutes of the second half. Back-to-back 3s by Heath gave the Aztecs the lead for good at 37-32 with 18:38 left. When Heath again went back-to-back with 3s, and Kyle Spain scored off a steal, San Diego State had a 55-43 lead with 13:33 left.

    "Brandon was the difference," said Aztecs coach Steve Fisher. "That stretch where he got basket after basket got us some separation. It puts a lot of pressure on the other team to score quickly and every possession becomes magnified. We caught a break with the way he got that hot hand."

    New Mexico (16-11, 7-7 MWC) got a terrific first half effort from Box to forge a 31-31 tie at the break. Box had 14 points and 10 rebounds in the game's first 15 minutes but scored only 3 points in the second half. He finished with 17 points and 13 rebounds.

    Box had four tip-in baskets and six offensive rebounds in the first half. But in the second half he got very few open looks at the basket and seemed to tire.

    "Joel had a great first half, but we let it get away from us in the second half," New Mexico coach Ritchie McKay said. "Our discipline and execution (on offense) was poor. We stood around and watched."

    The Lobos had plenty to look at when Heath had the ball.

    He hit 10 of 19 shots, was 8-for-13 on 3-pointers and had a team-high six assists.

    "My teammates saw I had a hot hand and got me the ball," Heath said.

    The Lobos, unable to stop Heath, stayed within range behind Kellen Walter's three 3-pointers in the second half. But while Walter hit four of seven 3s, the rest of the Lobos were going 2 of 18 in the game from behind the arc.

    New Mexico scored seven straight points to cut the Aztecs' lead to 55-50 on a 3-pointer by Walter with 9:39 left. San Diego State countered with an offensive rebound basket by Mohamed Abukar and a dunk by Marcus Slaughter moments after a 3-pointer by Walter rimmed out that would have cut the Aztecs' lead to four points.

    San Diego State, a program that has consistently struggled over the last three decades, had not shared or won a conference title since 1978.

    "It's been a long time coming," said Fisher, the former Michigan coach who Saturday got his 100th career victory at San Diego State.

    New Mexico outrebounded the Aztecs 24-11 in the first half but managed only a tie. That, said Fisher, was reason for optimism in the Aztecs' locker room.

    "I told them the way we had played, if we didn't let them have free reign inside, we'll win this game by double figures," Fisher said. "We were better at defensive rebounds in the second half obviously."

    Slaughter had a double-double for the Aztecs with 11 points and 11 rebounds and Abukar scored 15 points.

    Walter and Mark Walters each scored 12 points for New Mexico. Walters, the team's leading scorer, hit just 4 of 17 shots and was 1-for-8 on 3-point shots.

    Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press


    Team Stat Comparison

    Points 73 66
    FG Made-Attempted 26-56 (.464) 27-65 (.415)
    3P Made-Attempted 11-22 (.500) 6-25 (.240)
    FT Made-Attempted 10-14 (.714) 6-12 (.500)
    Fouls (Tech/Flagrant) 14 (0/0) 16 (0/0)
    Largest Lead 11 3

    2005-06 Season

    Jan 25, 2006 @SDSU 75, UNM 69Recap
    » Feb 25, 2006 SDSU 73, @UNM 66Recap