La. Tech 67, Idaho 61
Close, but no cigar. That was the case for Idaho in Saturday’s showdown between the league’s only unbeaten team and a Vandal team that could be close to unbeaten if they were able to hold onto a lead. The Vandals led by as many as nine points in the contest, but Raheem Appleby would go 6 of 11 from 3-point range in the second half and the Bulldogs would move to 14-0 in conference play. Appleby scored 22 of his 28 points in the second half and point guard Kenneth Smith showed why he leads the WAC in both assists and assist-to-turnover ratio. Smith dished out 10 assists and didn’t turn the ball over.
Utah State 73, New Mexico State 69
Utah State is beginning to look like the team it was at the start of the season, and a win over New Mexico State put the Aggies’ 12-game win streak at a stand-still. NMSU’s loss also meant that Denver would take sole possession of second place in the conference, with the Pioneers’ Saturday night win against San Jose State. Utah State, who is still playing without both Preston Medlin and Kyisean Reed, let big man Jarred Shaw be the Aggies’ workhorse. Shaw scored a game-high 24 points and pulled down eight rebounds for a USU team that has now won three of its last four games. Earlier in the season, NMSU had snapped USU’s 13-game winning streak, which served as the second-longest in the nation at that point.
Denver 83, San Jose State 68
No surprise at all, as the Pioneers would benefit from a New Mexico State loss and move to 13-2 in WAC play. Denver is still two games behind conference leader La. Tech, but will have another shot at the Bulldogs in the teams’ final conference game, which is set to take place Mar. 9 in Colorado. Meanwhile, the Spartans dropped their 10th consecutive game, with eight of those losses having come to the WAC’s top four teams. Saturday, SJSU was held to its third-lowest points total of the regular season and its leading scorer, LaVann Pennington, scored all eight of his points in the final five minutes of the game. Chase Hallam and Chris Udofia each had 13 points for the Pioneers, who have won 13 of their last 14 games.
UTSA 73, Texas State 62
The Roadrunners went on to win just their second conference game, while the Bobcats would lose their 11th Saturday in San Marcos, Texas. The conference’s leading scorer, Kannon Burrage, scored 15 points for a UTSA team that was very balanced on the offensive side of the ball. Michael Hale III and Jeromie Hill each scored 13 points, while Jordan Sims added another 12. Edrico McGregor was the other Roadrunner who scored in double figures, tallying 10 points while grabbing nine boards. Matt Staff had a monster game for the Bobcats, scoring 18 points and pulling down 13 rebounds for his fourth double-double of the season. The Bobcats had won three consecutive games beginning on Jan. 19 when they beat the Roadrunners in San Antonio, but are now losers of their last five games.
UTA 65, Seattle 63
A rather inconsistent Texas-Arlington squad lost to the Redhawks by 17 points January in Arlington, but managed to overcome five-point halftime deficit and oust Seattle U. in Key Arena. The Redhawks’ bench produced 42 points, while their starters contributed just 21 points in Seattle U.’s fifth straight loss. The Mavericks managed to pull out their ninth conference win, despite shooting just 35 percent from the field. At 9-5 in WAC play, UTA and Utah State are tied for fourth place in the conference standings. The Mavericks beat the Aggies by six points in Logan and will host Stew Morrill’s team on Mar. 2.
Theo Lawson can be reached at email@example.com