Mon, 12 Apr 2021

No. 22 San Diego State tries to keep edge against Boise State

Field Level Media
27 Feb 2021, 07:55 GMT+10

Despite nearly letting victory slip from their grasp on Thursday night, the San Diego State Aztecs remain on course to win their eighth Mountain West Conference regular-season title.

The Aztecs blew a 15-point lead in the last 10 minutes of regulation before going overtime to edge visiting BoiseState, 78-66.

"It's something we've done in practice and we've dealt with different types of adversity," said Matt Mitchell, who led the Aztecs with 24 points. "Boise State coming back from a 17-point lead was today's type of adversity."

It was the ninth consecutive victory for No. 22 San Diego State (18-4, 12-3 MWC), which will host Boise State again Saturday afternoon. The Broncos (18-5, 14-4) are a close third in the standings, behind 11-3 Colorado State.

The Aztecs were awarded a pair of forfeit wins over New Mexico by the Mountain West this week which count for seeding and conference championship implications, but not in official NCAA records. They can clinch their second consecutive regular-season title with a win over the Broncos and a win at UNLV on Wednesday.

Losses in either game could open the door for Colorado State or Boise State.

"It's getting to March, it's getting to the conference tournament, it's getting to another hard game with Boise and hopefully if we play well enough, the NCAA Tournament," San Diego State coach Brian Dutcher said. "The rest of the games are probably going to have a feel like this."

After Mitchell hit a pair of free throws to give the Aztecs a 63-60 lead with 27 seconds remaining, RayJ Dennis tied the score for the Broncos with a 3-pointer with 9.3 to go. Dennis finished with nine points and four assists.

But in overtime Mitchell hit two triples and Jordan Schakel hit another as the Aztecs outscored Boise State 15-3, snapping the Broncos' four-game winning streak. Trey Pulliam matched a career-high with 18 points for San Diego State.

Mitchell and Schakel lead the Aztecs in scoring with 15.6 and 14.2 points a game.

"When you dig yourself that big of a hole, it's a long way back and a whole lot of energy," Boise State coach Leon Rice said. "Our guys left it all out there. That first half they dictated everything that we did and we dug ourselves a big hole because that's how soft we were that first half."

Derrick Alston Jr. led the Broncos by scoring 22 of his 29 points in the second half.

Emmanuel Akot scored all nine of his points on three 3-pointers to key a 14-0 run that helped Boise State force overtime.

"(Akot) just flipped a switch and was a great competitor in the second half and we're going to need every second of that when we play them again," Rice said.

Boise State had made only 3 of 17 shots from 3-point range in the first half, but then hit 9 of 15 in the second half to force the overtime before going 0-for-8 from long shot range in the extra period.

The Broncos average a conference-best 77.2 points per game, led by Alston Jr. (18.2 points per game), followed by Abu Kigab (12.5 points, 5.6 rebounds) and Marcus Shaver Jr. (10.6 ppg).

--Field Level Media

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