No. 1 Utah Valley vs No. 5 Idaho
Score: 74-69, Idaho
Last night I confidently declared that Utah Valley had proven doubters wrong with their dominating victory over UTPA. Well, I suppose I shouldn't be too surprised in the WAC. Every team in the conference has at least one standout player who is capable of putting the team on his shoulders and carrying them to victory.
Tonight, once again, that player was Stephen Madison.
Madison had 25 points on 7-for-13 shooting and 3-for-4 from three. In the previous matchup between these two teams, Madison put up a career-high 42 points in an 89-88 loss for the Vandals. This time though, he brought help in the form of a better defense, because, as they say, the best offense is a good defense (just ask Rick Pitino). And while allowing 49 percent shooting isn't fantastic defense, it's a heck of a lot better than allowing 60 percent like they did in the last meeting.
Utah Valley shared the ball well and four (almost all five) of its starters ended the game in double-digits. However, Holton Hunsaker may have taken one too many shots in the end as he just couldn't get it going and seemed to be trying to force it. He ended with 15 points on 4-for-13 shooting and 2-for-8 on threes.
Idaho will face New Mexico State on Saturday night where it has a chance to become only the second team in the NCAA Tournament with a .500 record.
No. 2 New Mexico State vs No. 6 Bakersfield
Score: 69-63, New Mexico State
Well, one thing's for sure. The Aggies definitely know how to keep it interesting. The result of this one was still up in the air until New Mexico State began to pull away with about three minutes remaining.
For some reason, NMSU hasn't been able to get all of its players to click at once in either of these two tourney games. Yesterday it was Sim Bhullar's dominant performance that saved the Aggies from an upset at the hands of Seattle. Today, it was Daniel Mullings (21 points) and DK Eldridge (17 points) who came through for them while the forwards were silent despite having a huge size advantage over the Roadrunners.
If it weren't for Issiah Grayson, this game might not have been as close as it was. The Bakersfield guard scored 33 points on 24 attempts. He didn't receive much help outside of that as only three other Roadrunners scored more than two points.
New Mexico State will face Idaho in the title game where it will attempt to stop Madison from going off where others have failed to do so.