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New Mexico State routs Grand Canyon in WAC title game

Grand Canyon's Carlos Johnson (23) shoots over New Mexico State guard Trevelin Queen (20) during an NCAA college basketball game for the Western Athletic Conference men's tournament championship Saturday, March 16, 2019, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/Steve Marcus)

LAS VEGAS — Trevelin Queen scored 27 points and New Mexico State beat Grand Canyon 89-57 on Saturday night for its third straight Western Athletic Conference Tournament championship and NCAA Tournament berth.

New Mexico State improved to 30-4 with its 19th straight victory, extending its program record for wins in a season. The Aggies have won seven of the last eight titles and nine overall, also beating Grand Canyon in the championship game last season.

Ivan Aurrecoechea scored 16 points and Clayton Henry added 14. The Aggies made 33 of 65 field goals, going 17 of 39 from 3-point range.

New Mexico improved to 13-2 against the Antelopes (20-13), the Phoenix school in its sixth year at the Division I level, and second being eligible to play for a berth into the NCAA Tournament. Alessandro Lever led Grand Canyon with 17 points, and Damari Milstead added 11.

After opening with just one field goal in the first five minutes, and falling behind 10-2, New Mexico State responded with a flurry of 3-pointers, hitting four during a 24-11 run — including three from Queen.

After hitting eight of their first 15 field goal attempts, the Lopes closed the half missing 12 of 15. They finished the first half shooting 36.7, including 6 of 18 from beyond the 3-point arc.

BIG PICTURE

Grand Canyon: During their time in Division I, the Antelopes are 50-1 when scoring at least 82 points and 58-6 when holding opponents to 63 points or less. The problem for them was they couldn’t defend the perimeter, and the Aggies had 63 points before the midway point of the second half, at the 12:11 mark. At the other end, Grand Canyon never found a rhythm that would allow it to play its type of offensive game.

READY RESERVE

The Aggies tend to use up to nine reserves in games, but until Jans emptied his bench near the end, he’d only utilized five in the championship. Despite the decrease, New Mexico State’s bench outscored Grand Canyon’s 50-9.

LITTLE NUMBERS ADD UP

The game attendance was 1,165, bringing the tournament total to 4,137. The event average was 1,034. It marked the highest attendance total and average since 2011.

UP NEXT

Grand Canyon: With 20 wins, and a KenPom ranking of 94, the Antelopes should receive a lower-level postseason tournament invite.

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