San Diego State University’s Independent Student Newspaper Since 1913

The Daily Aztec

San Diego State University’s Independent Student Newspaper Since 1913

The Daily Aztec

San Diego State University’s Independent Student Newspaper Since 1913

The Daily Aztec

Men’s basketball falls in Mountain West Title game, 68-61 to New Mexico

Aztecs will await next opponent in NCAA Tournament, after they fall short down the final stretch
Chinedu Nwoffiah
San Diego State forward Jaedon LeDee lets a shot go over his fingertips over New Mexico center Nelly Junior Joespeh. LeDee was the leading scorer versus the Lobos with 22 points in the 68-61 Mountain West title loss at Thomas & Mack Center on Saturday, March 16.

LAS VEGAS – New Mexico Lobos fans came to the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas and let their  chants be heard, as the sixth-seeded team was victorious, 68-61, over the No. 5 San Diego State Aztecs in the championship game of the Mountain West Conference Tournament on Saturday. 

The win earned the Lobos an automatic berth in the NCAA Tournament, while the Aztecs await their next opponent during the NCAA Selection Show. 

“Obviously we’re disappointed, and we should be,” head coach Brian Dutcher said. “We wanted to hang a banner, win another Mountain West title, but it didn’t happen… but we can’t have a lingering effect over losing.”

On New Mexico’s end, guard Jaelen House had 28 points, guard Jamal Mashburn Jr. scored 21 and forward JT Toppin had a double-double to top the Aztecs. Toppin totaled 13 points and 11 rebounds. 

Forward Jaedon LeDee finished the game with 25 points and went 11-for-11 on free throws, which were the most in a Mountain West championship game without a miss. He sank seven of his 12 shots, with his teammates only making 13 of 44. 

Mashburn scored 13 points, and House had 15 to lead the Lobos to a 36-30 advantage at halftime. New Mexico led at the most by 14 points, but LeDee had a three-point play and scored five points to ignite a 10-2 run to finish the half with momentum for San Diego State. 

The Lobos stayed ahead of the Scarlet and Black in the second half, before guard Reese Waters made a three-pointer that gave the Aztecs a 44-43 lead with 12:12 remaining in the game. The lead changed between teams six times up to when LeDee made four consecutive free throws to slim New Mexicos’ lead 54-51 with eight minutes in regulation.

SDSU took on a 59-57 lead off of two LeDee foul shots, before House hit a shot to tie the game. Toppin made a rebound basket to take the lead along with a layup, and House added a three-pointer in a game-sealing 8-0 run; the Lobos led 67-59 with 36 seconds left in the game. 

Guard Micah Parrish dribbles in the paint with a New Mexico defender draped against him. (Chinedu Nwoffiah)

Guard Lamont Butler spoke on the team’s struggles to score off of turnovers, noting New Mexico’s strengths. 

“They were getting the ball on the rim, and they were able to get some good shots from House and Mashburn, and they were getting offensive rebounds,” Butler said. “It was really hard to pressure them because of how quick they are and how fast they are. It’s something that we’re going to learn from, and we’re going to figure it out.”

New Mexico won the Mountain West Championship title for the first time since its last NCAA Tournament appearance in 2014, and is the school’s 16th appearance overall. 

“We understand that it’s a 40-minute game and that if you are going to be behind, the best team to be behind is early,” Dutcher said. “So you’ve got time to fight back, and we fought back in every game. So I’m proud of how hard we are wired as a team and hopefully that leads to success in the NCAA Tournament.”

San Diego State reached the final after upsetting the top seed in the conference, 18th-ranked Utah State. 

About the Contributors
Roman Aguilar
Roman Aguilar, '24-25 Sports Editor, '23 -24 Sports Editor
Roman Aguilar (he/him/his) is a second-year journalism major with an emphasis in public relations from Stockton, California. Since he was little, he loved watching sports and being able to tell a good story out of an exciting game matchup. He joined the Daily Aztec in 2022 as a contributor and staff writer for the sports section, covering a multitude of sports including football, men's basketball, and water polo, before moving on to sports editor. Aguilar is also a blog writer for KCR College Radio, attending concerts and having the opportunity to cover shows and interview artists. When he isn't writing articles related to music or sports, you can see Roman going to local concert shows on a near-weekly basis and watching his favorite horror movies.
Chinedu Nwoffiah, Photographer
Chinedu Nwoffiah (he/him/his) is a fourth-year Communication major specializing in Digital & Social Media Studies. He has always had a passion for sports and storytelling and has been able to enhance his skills throughout his time at The Daily Aztec. Since joining in 2023, he has covered nearly every sport through photography and contributed as a writer, broadcaster, and multimedia specialist for men’s basketball.