Senior Ike Nwamu scored a career-high 38 points and Patrick McCaw added 27 with 14 rebounds to help seventh-seeded UNLV beat No. 10 seed Air Force 108-102 in triple overtime Wednesday and advance to the quarterfinals of the Mountain West Conference Tournament.
Jordan Cornish hit five 3-pointers and finished with a career-best 20 points, while Jerome Seagears scored 13 for UNLV, which will face No. 2 seed Fresno State (22-9) on Thursday.
Nwamu scored 13 in the third overtime, matching Air Force’s total, including a three-point play to open the period and an exclamation-point dunk to cap the scoring.
“We’re not going to think about how exhausted we are,” Nwamu was quoted by the Las Vegas Review-Journal. “You don’t get an asterisk for being tired.”
UNLV (18-14) overcame a season-high 23 turnovers by hitting 34 free throws – its most since Nov. 14, 2009 – and scoring its most points in more than two years.
Jacob Van scored a career-high 37 – including three free throws with three seconds left in the second OT that tied it at 89 and forced the third OT – for Air Force (14-18).
Eight players fouled out – including five for the Falcons.
Utah State 88, Wyoming 70 – Shane Rector scored 24, and Jalen Moore scored 19 with nine rebounds and five assists to help the ninth-seeded Utah Aggies beat the No. 8 seed Cowboys in the tournament opener at Thomas & Mack Center.
Chris Smith added 20 points, including four 3s, and Julion Pearre scored 14 for Utah State, which will face top-seeded San Diego State (23-8) on Thursday.
The Aggies (16-14) scored the first eight points before back-to-back 3-pointers by Rector and Smith gave them their biggest lead, 41-16, with 6:28 left in the first half.
Utah State shot 57.6 percent from the field, including 7 of 12 (58.3 percent) from 3-point range, in the first half and took a 47-30 lead into the break.
Jason McManamen scored seven points during an 11-0 run by Wyoming (14-18). Five consecutive points by Alan Herndon trimmed the Cowboys’ deficit to 63-56 with 9:46 left, but they would get no closer. McManamen led Wyoming with 23 points.
Colorado State 80, San Jose State 61 – Antwan Scott had 17 points and nine rebounds as the No. 6 seed Rams beat the 11th-seeded Spartans.
Emmanuel Omogbo had 10 points and 13 rebounds, Joe De Ciman scored 17 points, John Gillon added 12 and Jeremiah Paige had 10. Colorado State advanced to the quarterfinals to face No. 3 seed Boise State (20-11) on Thursday night.
The Rams (17-15) pulled away late in the first half with 14 straight points and led 43-24 at the break after shooting 5 of 11 from three-point range in the half. They extended to their largest lead when De Ciman’s three-point play made it 61-36 with 10:11 left in the second half. San Jose State got the deficit down to 14 with 4:09 left but no closer. Frank Rogers and Princeton Onwas led the Spartans (9-22) with 11 points each.
Mountain West Tournament
At The Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas
Wednesday, March 9
No. 9 Utah State 88, No. 8 Wyoming 70
No. 7 UNLV 108, No. 10 Air Force 102 (3OT)
No. 6 Colorado State 80, No. 11 San Jose State 61
Thursday, March 10
No. 1 San Diego State vs. Utah State, noon
No. 4 New Mexico vs. No. 5 Nevada, 2:30 p.m.
No. 2 Fresno State vs. UNLV, 6 p.m.
No. 3 Boise State vs. Colorado State, 8:30 p.m.
Friday, March 11
San Diego State-Utah State winner vs. New Mexico-Nevada winner, 6 p.m.
Fresno State-UNLV winner vs. Boise State-Colorado State, 8:30 p.m.
Saturday, March 12
Semifinal winners, 3 p.m.