There was no chance Chandler Hutchison was leaving Saturday night’s 72-70 win over Utah State. No matter how badly his body told him he should have.
Midway through the second half with his team trailing, Hutchison landed hard on his elbow going for a rebound. After wincing in pain for a few moments, the junior got up and slowly walked back-and-forth along the baseline.
With a chance to seize sole possession of first place in the Mountain West on the line, the thought of being subbed out never crossed his mind.
“I wanted to be in the game too bad,” Hutchison said. “I didn’t want to take myself out of the game just because I was a little banged up. I still wanted to stay aggressive.”
Hutchison’s grit paid off for the the Broncos. He scored 11 of his game-high 18 points in the second half, helping the Broncos withstand a 10-3 game-ending run and defeat the Aggies (10-12, 4-7) in front of a season-high crowd of 7,560 at Taco Bell Arena. It is Boise State’s third win in a row and snaps a two-game home losing streak. The Broncos led by nine points with 1:34 left.
Boise State (15-7, 8-3) moved a half-game ahead of idle Nevada for the league lead.
“If you look at how far we’ve come, it hasn’t been a straight line. It hasn’t been all good and ‘Hooray, hooray,’ ” Hutchison said. “ It’s never going to be perfect. We had a stretch where we lost 3-of-4 games, and things were looking tough. ... We just want to have that quick switch.”
With seven games remaining before the conference tournament, the Broncos are readying for the last leg of the season.
“You don’t get tired when it’s the stretch run. You get tired on the third lap of the mile. You don’t get tired on the fourth lap,” Boise State head coach Leon Rice said. “The fourth lap you’re sprinting in, seeing who can be the toughest. And that’s what we’re on now. They’re excited and they’re ready to go.”
Boise State led by 12 in the first half but was tied at halftime and trailed by three with 11 minutes left. Freshmen Justinian Jessup and Alex Hobbs spearheaded a 9-0 run to help the Broncos take a 54-48 lead over Utah State (10-12, 4-7).
Sophomore point guard Paris Austin scored 10 of his 16 points in the second half. He has scored 56 points in three games since moving to the bench.
“I’m playing aggressive. I’m playing confident, and I’m playing within the team,” Austin said. “When it’s time at the end of the clock, that’s when I just play aggressive.”
Though Boise State lost the rebounding battle 39-35, its defense was strong overall, holding star forward Jalen Moore to 1-of-10 shooting for the game and Utah State to 39.3 percent shooting in the second half.
Boise State hosts Air Force (10-13, 3-7) at 4 p.m. next Saturday.
“We’re not going to sit back, relax and pop champagne bottles in this week off,” Rice said. “We’re locked in, and everybody’s committed to getting better.”