One great streak continued Saturday night, and another ended. Sadly for the home team, it was the latter.
San Diego State continued its incredible record when leading late in games, while the Boise State men’s basketball team could not overcome a late deficit in front of a raucous crowd of 10,421 at Taco Bell Arena.
The Aztecs’ 56-53 win over the Broncos in the Mountain West tilt was their 156th straight victory when leading with 5 minutes remaining, while Boise State saw its 10-game overall and 17-game home win streaks end.
“We knew this would be a battle, just like it was. They’re one of the best defensive teams in the country, like always. ... You don’t get many open looks. When you do, you have to capitalize on them, and against their defense, we weren’t able to do that,” Boise State coach Leon Rice said.
Boise State (13-5, 4-1 MW) challenged San Diego State’s impressive late-game prowess by forcing six turnovers in the last 5:32 and holding the Aztecs (12-6, 5-0) to just two points in that stretch. The Broncos took the Aztecs to the final seconds, but junior forward Nick Duncan’s 3-pointer was blocked, then junior forward James Webb III’s 3-point attempt at the buzzer missed.
Not until Duncan hit a 3-pointer with 21.1 seconds left, the game’s final points, did Boise State make a shot from outside, missing its first 14 attempts and finishing 1-of-17. The Broncos barely extended their 457-game streak with a made 3-pointer. They finished the game with just three assists, their fewest in a game since Dec. 16, 1989, and were 17-of-54 from the field overall (31.5 percent).
“Half-court, we didn’t get any motion, no flow to the game, no assists we normally get,” Duncan said.
Peach baskets did not all the sudden replace the rims to start the game, but the stats sure seemed to look that way. The way the teams shot the ball, the 29th-largest crowd in arena history had to wonder if it was kept in a freezer all day.
The teams combined to make eight of their first 35 field-goal attempts, including a 3-of-16 start for the Broncos.
“We made it hard for them to get easy looks,” San Diego State coach Steve Fisher said. “They missed some 3s they normally make, but our effort and length made them hurry it a little bit. We made them take a lot of tough twos and didn’t let them get to the rim like they are accustomed to. It was a wonderful effort.”
Boise State had a 26-25 lead and were up by four with 17:03 to play, but the Aztecs took the lead for good with 13:25 to play on a Zylan Cheatham layup that made it 39-38. The Aztecs took advantage of the Broncos’ misses, outrebounding them 42-30, while Boise State made only five of its last 24 field goals. Boise State has made 3-of-32 3-pointers in the second halves of its past three games (9.4 percent).
“It’s nothing we were real surprised by, just it seemed tonight we were a little more stagnant on offense. And with their length on defense, it makes it that much easier to stay in front and guard our actions,” sophomore guard Chandler Hutchison said.
Webb led the Broncos with 17 points and 11 rebounds, his second double-double this week, while Duncan added 12 points and Hutchison had 11 off the bench. Senior guard/forward Anthony Drmic was held scoreless for the second time in the past four games.
“The important thing is, I told our guys, this wasn’t the championship game. There’s still a lot of basketball to be played,” Rice said.
The Broncos had won 18-of-19 conference games coming into Saturday, and their overall win streak was tied for third-longest in the nation. Rice said he hopes it “ignites” his team to start another.
“You want to be playing your best basketball toward the end of the year. We were clicking so well ... It’s a blessing in disguise. Now we’re focused,” Hutchison said. “We knew we weren’t going to go undefeated the rest of the year. That’s ridiculous to think that way. It’s how we look at things and how we get better.”
San Jose State at Boise State, 7 p.m. Wednesday, Taco Bell Arena