LAS VEGAS — The New Mexico State men’s basketball team defeated Grand Canyon 89-57 Saturday night at Orleans Arena in the 2019 Western Athletic Conference Tournament championship title game. The Aggies reached 30 wins this season, which is the most in school history. NMSU is also going to the NCAA Tournament for the 24th time.
“We’re going dancing. We’re going dancing,” said New Mexico State head coach Chris Jans. “I’m just really proud of our guys. They played some amazing basketball — one of our better games of the year.”
The Aggies played their best basketball of the season against the ‘Lopes in Saturday night’s game. NMSU beat GCU in both regular season games, but they weren’t like this. New Mexico State’s Johnny McCants lobbed a half-court shot at the end of regulation on Jan. 10 to beat the ‘Lopes 77-75 at home. When the Aggies traveled to play the ‘Lopes at their place, NMSU was down by 10 with 1:38 left on the clock and came back to win it.
The Aggies have beaten the ‘Lopes all six time they’ve played them with Chris Jans at the helm. They’ve beaten them in four regular-season games and now twice at the WAC Tournament. Jans and company will go to the NCAA Tournament for the second time in as many years.
Trevelin Queen was a huge contributor for the Aggies in the championship game. He scored 27 points and was named the tournament MVP. Queen had a late start with NMSU. He started in mid-December and worked up the totem pole. After being asked how it felt to be the tournament MVP, he was at a loss for words.
“It means a lot to me,” Queen said. “It means a lot to my family. I don’t know how to describe it. I’m stuck for words right now. I’m sitting right here. It’s just how I feel it. I’m at a loss for words. I don’t know — I can’t stop smiling.”
It wasn’t just Queen who boosted the Aggies. Terrell Brown is also a big reason New Mexico State won. Brown’s efforts didn’t go unrecognized as he was named to the All-Tournament Team.
Both New Mexico State and Grand Canyon drew large crowds. After GCU fell behind, NMSU fans went crazy. The crowd noise appeared to contribute to the Aggies’ win.
“Those fans are the best fans in the WAC,” said Aggie junior guard Terrell Brown. “They give the best boost ever, all the time. We always just feed off their energy. Once we feed off their energy, we’re unstoppable, to be honest.”
“I think they’re the best fans in the NCAA, not just in the WAC,” Trevelin Queen added.
Grand Canyon got off to a hot start. The ‘Lopes beat the Aggies on the tipoff and scored the first 8 points. Grand Canyon was in the lead for roughly half of the first frame, but New Mexico State flipped a switch and started scoring via Trevelin Queen. The Aggies took the boost and rolled with it to end the half up 41-30.
“I just know God works in mysterious ways,” Queen said. “Every shot I shot it just felt like it just touched me. I almost cried on the court after every shot.”
NMSU smacked Grand Canyon in the mouth in the second half. The Aggies were already up 11 at halftime and went “all gas no brakes” according to Trevelin Queen. New Mexico State stayed in the lead for the entire second half with the crowd noise elevating. Grand Canyon fans slowly began to exit the arena as the Aggie lead kept growing.
New Mexico State ended the game with an 89-57 beatdown over Grand Canyon. The Aggies will find out on Sunday who they will be playing in the NCAA Tournament.