2020 MWC Tournament Championship


San Diego State Aztecs (30-2, 17-2) | Utah State Aggies (26-8, 13-6)


Utah State pulled off the hard-fought victory over the fifth nationally-ranked San Diego State, 59-56, to capture the 2020 Mountain West Conference Tournament Championship.


After defeating Boise State and Wyoming, respectively, in the semifinals, the stage was set for one seed San Diego State and two seed Utah State to face-off in the championship game. Not only were they the two top seeds in the tournament, but it would also be a rematch of last year’s championship game. A year ago, it was the Aggies who punched in their ticket to “The Big Dance” with the 64-57 victory over the Aztecs.

In the two times these two played against each other in the regular season, SDSU won both games, 77-68 and 80-68, respectively. However, it was once again the Aggies who got the upper hand conference tournament final, in what was their most important game of the season.

Going into this game, USU was predicted to be one of the First Four teams out of the NCAA Tournament, needing the automatic bid in order to further extend their season, lacking the resume to receive an at-large bid. This was a disappointment for the program that made it to the “Big Dance” last season before falling to Washington in the first round.


SDSU, on the other hand, did not necessarily need the win, as they were being looked at as a one seed for the NCAA tournament.


With this loss, the conference regular-season champs will most likely drop down to a two seed according to most college basketball experts. They will be returning to the NCAA Tournament after missing it last season.

For USU, Senior guard Sam Merrill led the way with a game-high 27 points, while also grabbing six rebounds. He shot 10-22 (45%) from the floor and 6-15 (40%) from three. Merrill caught fire late in the second half and was clutch in hitting the game-winning three-pointer with 2.5 seconds left on the clock, which guaranteed him the honor of winning Tournament MVP.

Sophomore center Neemias Queta made his presence felt with 15 points, eight rebounds, and three blocks. He shot 7-12 (58.3%) from the field. Both Merrill and Queta were named to the All-Tournament Team.

For the Aztecs, it was junior guard Malachi Flynn who led his team with 16 points on 6-20 (30%) shooting, including 2-7 (28.5%) from beyond the arc. The reigning Mountain West Conference Player of the Year was also named to the All-Tournament Team. Senior forward Yanni Wetzell recorded a double-double performance of 12 points and 13 rebounds. He did his best in the big man match-up against Queta, who shot 5-12 (41.6%) from the field. Senior guard KJ Feagin contributed with 11 points and five rebounds. Feagin was also named to the All-Tournament Team.


The game was being dominated by SDSU for most of the first half, with their biggest lead being 16 at the 2:56 mark. USU went on a mini-run, with Diogo Brito capping it off with a three-pointer at the buzzer to make the score 29-21 at the half.


The Aggies started the second half red-hot with another run to make it a one-possession game. It then became a heavyweight prizefight type game with both teams trading buckets all the way to the end. There were three ties and six lead changes.

The game was ultimately tied with less than a minute left when Flynn attempted a three-pointer that went off the rim. Merrill then dribbled the ball to the other side of the court, opting to not take a timeout and go for the go-ahead basket. the basket was his game-winning three that hit nothing but net with only 2.5 seconds left in the game.

After both teams called timeouts, Flynn heaved up a half-court prayer to send the game into overtime. The ball nearly rolled into the net before rimming out as the buzzer sounded.


With that, Utah State won the conference tournament and there will be two Mountain West teams in the NCAA Tournament.


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-Isaiah Torres – Franchise Sports Media

Twitter: Isaiah_Torres24


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