San Diego St. 57, New Mexico 43
LAS VEGAS (AP)
After falling behind by 15 in the first half, the Lobos closed to four in the second half. It wasn't enough, though, as MWC Player of the Year Courtney Clements finished with 16 points and top-seeded San Diego State warmed up after a slow start to win the title 57-43 on Saturday.
''You know, sometimes you just give it your all and it doesn't quite work out,'' Nikki Nelson said, fighting back tears.
''It was a tough loss,'' Porche Torrance added. ''But one thing I will say is our teammates did come out, we fought till the end of the game, till the buzzer went off. We made it to the championship. Not a lot of people expected us to get this far.''
Chelsea Hopkins added 12 points for the Aztecs (25-6), who advanced to the NCAA tournament for the third time in four years and the ninth time in program history. It's their second conference tourney title in three years.
The Aztecs missed their first eight shots from the field before Clements hit a jumper. The Aztecs missed 12 of their first 15 shots but were leading 10-2. They had outrebounded the Lobos 16-3 at that point.
Lauren Taylor scored 14 and Torrance had 12 for the Lobos (11-20).
New Mexico coach Yvonne Sanchez praised the Aztecs.
''It took hopefully everything they had to beat us because I know we gave everything we had,'' she said. ''But that's a terrific staff. It's a terrific bunch. They set the bar high. So that's what we're going to aim for.''
SDSU has beaten New Mexico eight times in 10 games, including twice in the regular season, when the Aztecs won the league title with a 12-2 record. SDSU earned the top seed for the first time.
The Aztecs ran out to a 19-4 lead on a jumper by Clements, the MWC Player of the Year, with 7:06 left in the first half before the Lobos scored the next six points to climb back into it.
The Lobos kept it close before SDSU used its superior size and athleticism to pull away
San Diego State outrebounded the Lobos 45-29, with Malia Nahinu getting eight.
Both teams shot poorly. SDSU made only 19 of 54 shots for 35.2 percent and 3 of 17 3-pointers, 17.6 percent. New Mexico shot 28.9 percent, (13 of 45) while making only 2 of 14 from behind the arc (14.3).
SDSU's Beth Burns was the MWC Coach of the Year.