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NMSU

New Mexico State seasons ends with 74-56 loss to Grand Canyon in WAC Title game

LAS VEGAS, Nevada - If there was ever a year for team other than New Mexico State to seize the WAC Tournament Title, this was it.

With a dominating performance, the 2020-21 WAC season belongs to Grand Canyon Lopes who proved the better team than the Aggies Saturday in a 74-56 win.

The Lopes led by 15 at the break and New Mexico State never came within single digits in the second half, sending Grand Canyon to their first ever NCAA Tournament.

Jovan Blacksher led all scorers with 19 points for Grand Canyon, and first-year coach Bryce Drew wins both the WAC regular-season and conference tournament titles.

Blacksher's three-pointer with four seconds remaining in the first half capped an opening period where the Lopes shot 57% to build a double-digit lead that NMSU couldn't cut into.

Grand Canyon also dominated the battle on the boards, outrebounding the Aggies 39-25.

The closest New Mexico State came in the second half was a 12-point deficit, off a Jabari Rice lay-in with 13:21 to go.

But the Lopes answered with a 5-0 run of their own and kept the Aggies at bay the rest of the way.

For New Mexico State, their season officially ends with the loss. It was the first WAC Tournament loss for Chris Jans as Head Coach.

Despite falling significantly Saturday, New Mexico State has plenty to hang their hats on after a rollercoaster season.

The Aggies went without having played a game in their home gym all season long, and were one of two teams (New Mexico) in the country exiled from their home state.

With New Mexico schools unable to host sporting events in-state, the Aggies played their final four home games at El Paso's Eastwood High School.

Even still, NMSU came within one win of an NCAA Tournament berth.

The attention for NMSU now turns to next season, as the team will return 2020 WAC Player of the Year in Rice.

Seniors Johnny McCants, Evan Gilyard, and Donnie Tillman will have the option to return to school via the NCAA's blanket waiver.

Sports

Nate Ryan

Nate Ryan is an ABC-7 sports anchor/reporter.

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