By Jason King
LAS VEGAS — A few quick thoughts from New Mexico’s 63-56 victory over UNLV in the championship game of the Mountain West Conference tournament Saturday at the Thomas & Mack Center.
Overview: Tony Snell scored 21 points and Kendall Williams added 12 points and seven assists to lead New Mexico past UNLV in front of 18,500 fans. The Lobos led 34-32 at intermission and used an outstanding defensive effort to run away with the game in the second half.
Snell accounted for all of his team’s points during a 10-2 run that ended with New Mexico leading 56-47 with about three minutes remaining. UNLV made just one basket during a nearly 10-minute span in the second half.
Still, the Rebels gave themselves a chance when back-to-back 3-pointers by Bryce Dejean-Jones shaved New Mexico’s cushion to 56-53. UNLV forced a turnover on New Mexico’s next possession and got the ball to Katin Reinhardt in transition. But Reinhardt missed a wide-open 3 — a wiiiidddeee-open 3 — from the right wing. New Mexico responded with a 3 from Snell that made it 59-53 with 1:06 remaining. That was basically the ballgame.
Reinhardt is typically one of UNLV’s top shooters, but he suffered through a brutal Saturday, making just 4 of his 16 field goal attempts, including a handful of crucial misses that would have either given UNLV the lead or, at the very least, the momentum. Somehow, he was named to the all-tournament team.