New Mexico seems determined to defend its Mountain West tournament title.
The Lobos jumped out to a 14-3 lead and rolled to a 93-77 victory over the Fresno State Bulldogs Thursday night in the quarterfinals of the Mountain West tournament at the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas.
The Lobos, winners of the last two Mountain West tournament titles, will now play in the semifinals Friday night at 8:30 p.m. against the winner of the Nevada Wolf Pack-Boise State Broncos game played late Thursday night.
The Lobos, now 25-6, exploded out to a 14-3 lead less than five minutes into the game. Cameron Bairstow had six points and Hugh Greenwood had a 3-pointer to spark the start. Bairstow would finish with 21 points and 10 rebounds.
Fresno State, now 17-16, did stay in the game. Tyler Johnson's lay-up cut the Lobos' lead to just 19-14 with just over 11 minutes to play in the first half. But Cullen Neal hit a 3-pointer and Alex Kirk had a dunk and a short jumper as the Lobos extended their lead to 28-19 with 8:25 to go in the first half.
Kendall Williams completed a 3-point play as the Lobos took a 32-24 lead with 6:16 to go and Bairstow hit a jumper for a 40-28 lead with 3:34 left in the half.
New Mexico led 49-35 at halftime.
Fresno State never really threatened in the second half. Marvelle Harris, though, had a 3-point play to cut the Lobo lead to 55-45 with 15:16 to go. New Mexico, however, pulled away as Deshawn Delaney hit two free throws and Williams had a lay-up and two free throws for a 61-45 lead with 13:26 to play.
The Lobos, which got a lay-up from Kirk for a 77-61 lead with 6:30 to go, led comfortably the rest of the game.
Kirk finished with 21 points and six boards. Williams had 17 points, nine assists and six rebounds and Delaney finished with nine points. Greenwood had eight points and eight rebounds.
The Bulldogs received balanced scoring from Allen Huddleston (18 points), Alex Davis (17), Paul Watson (16) and Harris (13). Johnson would score just two points in his 36 minutes, missing 6-of-7 field goal attempts.
New Mexico shot 57 per cent (29-of-51) from the floor and was 31-of-38 from the free throw line.