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Utah State takes WAC tourney title

Mar 13, 2011 - 7:45 AM Las Vegas, NV (Sports Network) - For the second time in three years, the Utah State Aggies are Western Athletic Conference Tournament champions.

Brockeith Pane and Tai Wesley both finished with 19 points as 23rd-ranked Utah State edged Boise State, 77-69, at Orleans Arena. Utah State, which won the regular season title with a 15-1 record, erased the memory of last season's loss to New Mexico State in the final.

Wesley grabbed a team-high nine rebounds and Nate Bendall added 16 points and six boards for the Aggies (30-3). Brian Green scored 12 for the victors.

La'Shard Anderson paced the Broncos (20-12) with 18 points and four assists. Daequon Montreal and Jeff Elorriaga both added 10 points in the loss.

The game was close in the opening minutes, but the Aggies created some distance just past the midway point of the first half. Bendall's layup with 9:07 remaining gave Utah State a 24-12 advantage.

The Broncos slowly cut their deficit in the remaining minutes of the first half, taking a lead with back-to-back Anderson baskets. But Pane scored five straight points, with his layup and conversion giving the Aggies a 35-33 lead at the half.

A 12-0 Aggies run opened the second half, capped by Wesley's three to make it 47-33. They led the rest of the way, but two Elorriaga free throws with 49 seconds remaining cut it to 67-63.

That was as close as the Broncos would get. Bendall responded with a layup and the Utah State lead was never smaller than six the rest of the way.

Game Notes

The Aggies swept the regular-season series and hold a 28-8 all-time lead in this series...Utah State held a 36-26 rebounding margin and made 22-of-26 free throws...The Broncos made 17-of-21 from the line and only made six of the 26 three-pointers they attempted.