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RENO, Nev. - New Mexico State junior guard Jahmar Young hit the game-winning shot with five seconds remaining in regulation to lift the Aggie men's basketball team over Nevada, 80-79, in the WAC Tournament semifinals at the Lawlor Events Center.
The Aggies improved to 21-11 and advance to the title game against Utah State at 8 p.m. on ESPN2. NMSU is making its third appearance in the championship game in the last four years.
With the Aggies trailing, 79-78, Young sank a jumper from the elbow to finish with 15 points. Sophomore forward Troy Gillenwater had a season-high 21 points while junior forward Wendell McKines recorded his second consecutive double-double with 16 points and 10 rebounds.
Senior guard Jonathan Gibson also scored 10 points for the Aggies. NMSU is now 8-0 in games decided by five points or less this season.
Nevada jumped to an early lead and scored the first seven points of the game. The Aggies answered with a 7-2 run to tie the game at 9-9 following a pair of sophomore center Hamidu Rahman free throws at the 17:20 mark. NMSU collected its first lead, 13-11, with two free throws from Gillenwater with 16:09 to play.
At 9:38, junior guard Gordo Castillo hit his first 3-pointer of the game from the left wing to give the Aggies a 20-18 lead. In the first half, the game had eight ties and nine lead changes. The Aggies built their biggest advantage of the period, 34-28, at 3:49 when freshman forward Tyrone Watson sank a layup in transition.
The Aggies led 42-40 at the break.
NMSU had a balanced offense in the first half with Gillenwater leading the way with 12 points. McKines added six points and six rebounds with Castillo contributing six points as well and Young and Gibson scored five each.
To start the second half, the Aggies extended their lead to eight, 51-43, when NMSU scored seven straight and Gibson capped the rally with a 3-pointer at 16:45.