No. 7 San Diego State tops UNLV 74-72 in MWC semis - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

No. 7 San Diego State tops UNLV 74-72 in MWC semis

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San Diego State's D.J. Gay, left, is fouled by UNLV's Carlos Lopez during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game in the semifinals of the Mountain West Conference tournament, Friday, March 11, 2011, in Las Vegas. San Diego State's D.J. Gay, left, is fouled by UNLV's Carlos Lopez during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game in the semifinals of the Mountain West Conference tournament, Friday, March 11, 2011, in Las Vegas.

LAS VEGAS (AP) — San Diego State is getting one more shot at BYU — thanks to D.J. Gay.

The senior point guard, who coach Steve Fisher calls his "Most Important Player," sank a short jumper with 4.9 seconds left to send the No. 7 Aztecs past UNLV 74-72 Friday night in the Mountain West Conference semifinals.

The defending tournament champions secured their third straight title game appearance when UNLV's Tre'Von Willis was off target on a fadeaway, contested 3-point attempt at the buzzer.

Gay finished with 15 points for the second-seeded Aztecs. Kawhi Leonard led four players in double figures with 18 points, pulled down eight rebounds and played the last 4 minutes with four fouls.

Chace Stanback led third-seeded UNLV with 22 points and Willis added 19.

Eighth-ranked BYU is the only team that's beaten the Aztecs (31-2) this season, winning 71-58 in Provo, Utah, and 80-67 in San Diego.

San Diego State and BYU shared the conference regular-season crown, with the Cougars gaining the top seed on the basis of their stunning sweep. The Cougars outlasted New Mexico in the other semifinal behind a career-high 52 points from Jimmer Fredette.

The Aztecs had to survive their third tough game with the Runnin' Rebels (24-8), whom they beat by six points twice this season.

Leonard hit three straight jumpers to give the Aztecs a 65-59 lead at the 6-minute mark, but he picked up his fourth foul with 4:17 left and White sank two of three free throws, then got a breakaway bucket at the other end to tie it at 66.

Stanback's free throws with 2:53 left gave UNLV, which trailed by a dozen in the second half, a 68-66 lead.

But the Aztecs are great closers — they've won 43 straight games when leading at the 5-minute mark.

Malcolm Thomas sank two free throws to tie it, then Chase Tapley sprinted downcourt for a finger-roll layup after White blocked Bellfield's lay-in attempt, giving San Diego State a 70-68 lead.

After Anthony Marshall tied it again with two free throws, then blocked White's shot, UNLV called time out with 1:17 left and the game knotted at 70.

Stanback's jumper from the top of the circle gave the Rebels a 72-70 lead, but Thomas tied it one last time with a pair of free throws.

After a UNLV timeout with 35 seconds left, the Rebels turned the ball over and, as Fisher had instructed during the break in action, the Aztecs cleared out the lane for Gay to penetrate. He swished the shot the same way he did earlier in the season when he hit a buzzer-beater at Colorado State on Feb. 2 in a 56-54 win.

 

Copyright 2011 The Associated Press.

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