SAN DIEGO (AP) - Steve Fisher's San Diego State Aztecs are going to New York and Patrick Mills is heading into the offseason.
The Aztecs blew a 13-point second-half lead, then rallied to beat Mills and the Saint Mary's Gaels 70-66 on Wednesday night to reach the semifinals of the NIT.
Tim Shelton posted up for the go-ahead basket with 48.6 seconds left and Richie Williams made three free throws in the final 26 seconds as the Aztecs held off the Gaels.
This is the deepest SDSU has advanced in a national postseason tournament in its Division I history. Students rushed the court after the buzzer.
Billy White scored 17 for the Aztecs (26-9), who will play Baylor (23-14) in the semifinals on Tuesday night at Madison Square Garden.
Fisher was part of two NIT championships while at Michigan, as an assistant to Bill Frieder in 1984 and as head coach in 1997. Fisher coached Michigan to the NCAA title in 1989.
SDSU and Saint Mary's (28-7) both felt they should have been in the NCAA tournament. As it is, the Aztecs are the last Mountain West Conference team still playing in the postseason.
The fast, normally exciting Mills had a miserable end to his season. He was on the bench at the final buzzer, having fouled out with 10.8 seconds to go. He scored a game-high 18 points but had a horrible night shooting, going 7-for-24 overall and 4-for-13 on 3-pointers.
Mills - who came in shooting 86.7 percent from the free-throw line - missed the front end of a one-and-one with 34.9 seconds left and the Gaels trailing 66-64. SDSU's Kyle Spain rebounded and Mills fouled Williams, who made both ends of a one-and-one for a four-point lead.
Mills made a layup with 14.9 seconds left and Williams answered by making the second of two free throws to make it 69-66. After a timeout, the Gaels inbounded the ball to Mills but he inexplicably lost the ball out of bounds.
Mills drew his fifth foul and Williams again made the second of two free throws for a 70-66 lead.
The Aztecs were just 4-of-8 from the line in the final 1:42.
SDSU had lost to Saint Mary's in consecutive appearances in the John Wooden Classic, including 67-64 on Dec. 13.
SDSU jumped to leads of 13-0 and 18-3 as Mills and the Gaels started cold. Saint Mary's pulled within five late in the first half before SDSU took a 39-28 halftime lead.
The Aztecs were up 46-33 early in the second half before Saint Mary's started closing the gap. Saint Mary's tied it at 64 on Mills' fast-break layup with 2:02 left but could never take the lead.
Copyright 2009 The Associated Press.
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