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.
Dejean-Jones scored 19 points in a losing effort while Anthony Bennett added 15. Bennett scored 13 of his team's first 15 points but was quiet after that. UNLV shot just 33.9 percent as a team and only 29 percent from 3-point range.
New Mexico, meanwhile, played an unselfish brand of basketball from start to finish. It's easy to see why the Lobos won the MWC regular-season title by two games. Sixteen of their 23 baskets Saturday came off assists, including seven from Williams and five from Hugh Greenwood.
By winning Saturday, New Mexico avenged a 64-55 loss to UNLV at the Thomas & Mack Center on Feb. 9. The Lobos were aided by some incredible fan support. There were at least as many -- if not more -- New Mexico fans in attendance as UNLV fans. At times it felt like a Lobos home game, especially during the postgame court-storming.
What's next: New Mexico will take a 29-5 record into the NCAA tournament, which begins next week. UNLV is 25-9.