Let’s face it, late-game heroics are always fun. And in this chaotic 2020, heroics are something we are all waiting for. As 2020 comes to a close, it’s time to take a look back of some of the best conference games of 2020. It’s sad that we won’t have any WAC Tournament on this list for obvious reasons. But, here we go and some of the games we have video clips, which we hope you will enjoy.
5. California Baptist at New Mexico State – March 5, 2020
You might wonder why I am putting a blowout on this list. Well, this wasn’t just a blowout. It was an electric show on Senior Night for the Aggies. Trevelin Queen had back-to-back, highlight reel dunks and the Aggies blew out the Lancers, 83-50.
California Baptist didn’t even reach the 30-point mark until Brandon Boyd hit a layup with 11:28 left in the game. Yes, IN THE GAME! And the Aggies put the exclamation point on the first unblemished run through the WAC in two decades resulting in the WAC regular season crown, the third straight under head coach Chris Jans.
Queen finished with 19 points, four rebounds and three assists in his final game as an Aggie. Ivan Aurrecoechea, Terrell Brown and C.J. Bobbit were all in double digits in their final games at New Mexico State. And the Aggies shot 50 percent from the field in the win.
The Aggies are the first team in WAC history to finish 16-0 in league play. 1997-98 TCU (14-0) and 1998-99 Utah (14-0) are the only other team in WAC history to finish undefeated in league play.
4. UTRGV at Utah Valley – January 18, 2020
LATE-GAME HEROICS. Just read the title. Late-game heroics are the highlight of this list. And Utah Valley’s Isaiah White provided some late-game heroics at the UCCU Center on Jan. 18 against UTRGV.
White hit a layup off a nice assist by TJ Washington with two seconds remaining to give Utah Valley the 72-70 win over the Vaqueros. Prior to White’s heroics, Sean Rhea threw down a dunk to make it a 70-70 ballgame with 14 seconds to play. This contest featured seven lead changes and eight ties. Utah Valley guard TJ Washington had perhaps his best game with 25 points while shooting 50 percent from the floor and going 11-12 from the free throw line.
Lesley Varner II finished with 23 points while Rhea and Javon Levi finished with 14 and 12 points, respectively.
3. Seattle at Utah Valley – February 8, 2020
Say it with me again…late-game heroics! Love that phrase. And on February 8 at the UCCU Center in Orem, Seattle head coach Jim Hayford loved those words, as well.
We should add that there were both late-game heroics in regulation and in overtime.
Utah Valley had a 75-70 lead following an Emmanuel Olojapoke and-1 conversion with 3:15 to play.
But, Terrell Brown and Morgan Means made sure that lead didn’t stick. The duo accounted for seven of Seattle’s final nine points to force the game int overtime.
And in overtime, a flurry of action took place. Utah Valley opened the extra period on a 4-0 run. Seattle responded with its own 4-0 run. With 9 seconds remaining, Brandon Averette hit a jumper that tied it at 85.
And then, late-game heroics struck. Morgan Means drove the length of the court, and in traffic, banked one in to give Seattle the 87-85 win.
2. Seattle at California Baptist – February 29, 2020
And the trend of late-game heroics continues. WAC Player of the Year Milan Acquaah graces us with his presence in this contest. And this was another overtime contest, as well.
In fact, this game was technically Terrell Brown and Morgan Means vs. De’Jon Davis and Milan Acquaah. Brown had 31 points and Means had 24. Davis finished with a career-high 31 points and 15 rebounds while Aquaah had 27 points and 7 assists.
It was the final two points for Acquaah that were the most important, though. Following a Terrell Brown jumper that gave Seattle an 87-86 lead with 22 seconds to play, Acquaah hit a step-back jumper with a hand in his face to give CBU the 88-87 win on Senior Night at the CBU Events Center.
1. Utah Valley at New Mexico State – February 15, 2020
February 23, 2017 is the last time that New Mexico State lost a home conference game. Who was the opponent? Yes, it was Utah Valley. Brandon Randolph and Kenneth Ogbe scored nearly every Wolverine point down the stretch in an 84-72 win at the Pan Am Center on Feb. 23, 2017.
Fast forward three years. First-year head coach Mark Madsen already did something Mark Pope didn’t and that was win at Grand Canyon. And Utah Valley was on the verge of handing New Mexico State its second conference home loss in three years. With six seconds left to play, Tj Washington hit a pair of free throws to give the Wolverines an 82-81 lead with six seconds to play.
That is just too much time left for a team like New Mexico State. Think back to the Grand Canyon game on Jan. 10, 2019. GCU looked to have the game locked up against the Aggies but Johnny McCants called game with a buzzer-beating halfcourt prayer that was answered.
Well, Jabari Rice called game against Utah Valley on Feb. 15, 2020. Rice took a handoff pass from Evan Gilyard, dribbled once, and threw up a prayer. At least he called ‘bank’ on that prayer that found the bottom of the net to give New Mexico State the 84-82 win over Utah Valley. Late-game heroics. Simple statement.
Seattle at Kansas City – January 2, 2020
Perhaps I should have done the top-6 conference games of 2020. I totally forgot about this triple-overtime thriller to start WAC play in 2020. Jahshire Hardnett hit big shot after big shot to keep Kansas City in the game.
I mean, in the first overtime, Hardnett hit a 3-pointer with one second remaining to send the game into a second overtime.
In the second overtime, Javan White hit a jumper as time expired to send the game to a third overtime. And in the third overtime, it was a jumper by Hardnett that put Kansas City out in front 87-86 with 1:12 to play and the Roos went on to win 90-86.