There was no heartbreaking 3-pointer in the final seconds, no game-winning attempt that just missed - it didn't come to that Saturday for the Boise State men's basketball team.
Three times in the past two seasons, the San Diego State Aztecs beat the Broncos by a combined six points. Each time, the final shot didn't go Boise State's way.
On Saturday in front of its fourth crowd of 10,000 or more this season, Boise State led wire-to-wire and picked up its first win over San Diego State in five tries with a 69-65 victory.
"That was big - you can say it was a monkey on our back, but the bottom line is they know how to win games, and the great thing is, so do our guys," Boise State coach Leon Rice said. "They're getting better at it. We've learned stuff from playing against them."
In a game that "had a lot riding on it," according to Rice, the Broncos (21-9, 9-7 Mountain West) inched closer to an NCAA Tournament spot with their win over the Aztecs (21-9, 9-7) and relied on their second-half star to get them there.
Point guard Derrick Marks had 22 of his game-high 27 points in the second half, giving him 50 in the final halves of his past two home games.
The sophomore's biggest play wasn't a basket, but instead preventing one.
With Boise State leading 66-63 and 31 seconds to go, the Aztecs' Xavier Thames stripped Anthony Drmic under the Broncos' basket. Thames leaped for a layup, but Marks blocked it, grabbed the ball and called timeout with 21 seconds left.
"It was a great play by them, and Derrick made an even better play. I'm glad he got it, because I would've been in the doghouse," Drmic said.
Two free throws by Drmic and one by Marks down the stretch sealed it for Boise State.
Drmic's 23 points clinched the top spot in conference scoring this season (18.8 points per game in 16 MW games). Marks finished with nine rebounds, six assists and two blocks to go with his 27 points.
Marks had 19 of Boise State's last 27 points, twice hitting layups in the final 4 minutes after the Aztecs cut the lead to three, and made a big turnaround jumper with 1:31 to go that made it 66-60.
"It's just something that just happened, I guess," Marks said. "When I'm feeling it, I just want to make the next play, the next stop."
Kenny Buckner, Boise State's lone senior, had 11 rebounds (four offensive) in 25 minutes, helping the Broncos out-rebound the Aztecs 35-32.
"Without those 11 boards, we have no chance to win this game," Rice said.
Boise State came out strong, leading 31-15 with 3:48 left in the first half. But the Aztecs, who have averaged 26 wins per season since 2009-10, didn't fade away.
The Aztecs made nine of their first 13 shots in the second half to get within four points and back into the game.
"When you get a team down 15, you need to keep defensive pressure on them," Drmic said. "We fell off a little bit on that, so it's something we'll definitely work on."
The Broncos withstood the charge, and San Diego State never got closer than three points.
With four of the teams' five meetings so close the past two seasons, it's fitting they will see one another again in the first round of the Mountain West Tournament. The Broncos and Aztecs face off at 10 p.m. MST Wednesday in Las Vegas.
"Nothing changes - we're going to go into it like we did (Saturday), and hopefully come out with a 'W,'" Drmic said.
Boise State possibly claimed itself an at-large berth in the NCAA Tournament with Saturday's win over the 32nd-ranked team in this week's NCAA RPI ratings. The Broncos have four wins over teams currently in the top 36 in RPI. Other teams helped their bubble cause Saturday, too.
Kentucky (No. 51): rallied to defeat RPI No. 6 Florida 61-57, but still may need a win in the SEC Tournament to be safe.
Iowa State (No. 53): The Cyclones knocked off RPI No. 25 Oklahoma State this week, and improved to 21-10 with a road win Saturday at West Virginia.
Tennessee (No. 56): The Volunteers are 19-11, but have won eight of their past nine after beating RPI No. 33 Missouri 64-62 on Saturday.