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Utah St rallies to beat New Mexico St in WAC semis



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RENO, Nev. -- Tyler Newbold rolled in a 15-foot jump shot with 3.1 seconds left and top-seeded Utah State overcome a 13-point halftime to defeat New Mexico State 71-70 Friday in the semifinals of the Western Athletic Conference tournament.

Gary Wilkinson scored a game-high 19 points and Tai Wesley and Pooh Williams added 13 each for Utah State (29-4), which set a school record for most wins in a season.

The regular season WAC champions advance to Saturday night's final against the winner of Friday night's other semifinal between second- seeded Nevada (20-11) and fifth-seeded Louisiana Tech (15-17).

Jonathan Gibson had 16 points and Jahmar Young 15 for New Mexico State (17-15), which turned an early 10-point deficit into a 47-34 halftime lead by making eight consecutive attempts from 3-point range.

Gibson scored 14 points in the first half but Newbold's tight defense kept him from scoring in the second half until 1:42 was left in the game.

It also was Newbold who got Utah State the ball back with 31 seconds on the clock when NMSU's Hernst Laroche missed the front end of a one-and- one and Gibson grabbed the rebound. But Newbold tied him up for a jump ball and the possession arrow favoring Utah State.

Wesley missed a short hook in the lane with 7 seconds left, but NMSU's Chris Gabriel swatted the ball out of bounds. Wesley caught the inbound pass at the top of the lane and passed to Newbold on the left wing. His 15-footer rolled off the rim, hit the backboard and rolled in for the victory.

(Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

Scott Sonner Writer

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