LAS VEGAS — Tony Snell scored 13 straight points for New Mexico during a second-half run, and the No. 15 Lobos pulled away late Saturday to beat UNLV 63-56 and add the Mountain West tournament title to their regular season crown.
Snell carried New Mexico (29-5) down the stretch, making three 3-pointers and adding a pair of field goals as the Lobos took over in the last 8 minutes of the game to win the conference title and the rubber game of the series between the teams this season.
Snell scored 21 points, but it was a streak beginning with a 3-pointer that put New Mexico up 49-45 with 8:11 left that sealed the game. Conference player of the year Kendall Williams capped it off with a turnaround dunk with 11 seconds left and posed before a delighted traveling contingent of thousands of Lobo fans.
Bryce Dejean-Jones kept UNLV in the game with a pair of late 3s, including one that drew UNLV within 56-53 with 2:18 left. But Snell came back down the court for a 3-pointer of his own, and the Lobos were never headed.
Snell had 21 points to lead New Mexico, while Williams added 12. Dejean-Jones led UNLV with 19 points, while Anthony Bennett had 15.
Bennett, UNLV's sensational freshman, scored 11 points – the entire UNLV total – before the first television timeout. But he was inconsistent after that, disappearing for long stretches and throwing up some wild 3-pointers that kept missing the mark.
UNLV (25-9) outrebounded New Mexico 41-29, but the Rebels shot only 34 percent from the field – including 9 of 31 3-pointers.
It was the second straight conference tournament title for the Lobos, who defeated San Diego State the day before to make the final. UNLV was playing on even shorter rest, after stopping Colorado State in a late night game Friday.
New Mexico used balanced scoring to rebound from a slow start and lead for most of the first half. The Lobos never led by more than six points, though, and a 3-pointer by Katin Reinhardt drew the Runnin' Rebels within 34-32 at halftime before an enthusiastic crowd of 18,500 that was equally divided between UNLV and New Mexico fans at UNLV's campus arena.
DeJean-Jones – who was scoreless in the first half – scored eight points within a two minute span in the second half to draw UNLV even at 44 with 12:41 remaining. But New Mexico came right back with a layup by Jamal Fenton, and the Lobos led the rest of the way.
Williams didn't have one of his strongest games, but his backcourt mate Snell more than made up for it. After scoring eight points in the first half and going scoreless for about 12 minutes of the second, Snell scored the next 13 points for New Mexico before Williams finished it off with a pair of free throws and his dunk.