San Diego State owned the first half, Boise State the second, but the Aztecs returned to form in overtime Thursday, outpacing the Broncos 78-66 at Viejas Arena.
Boise State gave SDSU a scare based on their three-point prowess after the break, but it fled them completely in the extra period. The Aztecs won their ninth straight to take over the top spot in the Mountain West standings with two games to play.
“We knew this kind of game was coming,” coach Brian Dutcher said of the tough contest that followed a string of lopsided San Diego State victories.
SDSU (18-4, 12-3 in MW) made mistakes down the stretch, with turnovers by Matt Mitchell and Jordan Schakel.
Then with two seconds left and the score tied at 63, Mitchell got too aggressive, committing an offensive foul. Bronco RayJ Dennis heaved an errant half-court shot as the clock expired, forcing the game to overtime.
The Aztecs quickly got down to business after regulation, as Mitchell made a layup, then Schakel a three-pointer, his first of the game.
SDSU went on to outscore Boise State 15-3 in OT, as the Broncos (18-5, 14-4 in MW) went ice cold. They made only one of 11 shots, and none of their eight three-point attempts.
Mitchell led the Aztecs with 24 points and nine rebounds. Trey Pulliam added 18 and Terrell Gomez 10.
The Broncos had tied the game on Dennis’ three-pointer with 10 seconds left, a play that the officials reviewed, to see whether the guard’s foot skimmed the line as he made the shot.
They let the basket stand, but Dennis got his chance thanks to teammate Derrick Alston, who scored 22 in the half, including five three-pointers to bring Boise State back from a 17-point deficit.
San Diego State had sped out of the gate, jumping out to a 22-8 lead in the first half. They went into the break leading 29-17, the fewest points Boise State had scored in the first half this season. The Broncos also committed 12 turnovers.
The Aztecs led 37-20 early in the second half, but Emmanuel Akot made it a one-point game with 7:42 to play after he hit two three-pointers in a span of 20 seconds – both off SDSU turnovers. Alston tied the game for the first time, at 58-58, with less than two minutes to play.
San Diego State suffered a crushing loss earlier this season when Colorado State overcame a 26-point deficit to win 70-67. This time, despite the Broncos comeback, SDSU never surrendered the lead.
The teams continue their conference showdown at 1 p.m. Saturday at Viejas, in a game to air on CBS Sports Network.