San Diego State completed a sweep of Boise State Saturday, winning 62-58, to put the Aztecs firmly in control in the race to win the Mountain West season title.
To do so, SDSU (19-4, 13-3 in the MW) must win Wednesday in their makeup game against UNLV. Lose and they open the door for Colorado State or Utah State.
Boise State (18-6, 14-5 in MW) pushed No. 22/25 San Diego State late, coming within one point of the lead five times in the waning minutes, but they couldn’t overtake the Aztecs, who won their 10th straight.
The teams traded fouls in the final eight seconds –and Jordan Schakel and Matt Mitchell came through, making all six of their free throws down the stretch.
“We had the clock manageable and it was under 10 (seconds) to start with, so we knew we were going to foul as soon as they crossed mid-court,” coach Brian Dutcher said. “And to our credit, I mean, that doesn’t always work. It works when you make free throws.”
Mitchell’s two shots iced the game with three seconds left, after he had trouble from the line earlier in the game, missing three of his first four free throws.
He also made late plays that counted for San Diego State, first with a steal that led to a Keshad Johnson dunk with less than four minutes to play to give his team a four-point lead.
With 1:33 on the clock, he lobbed a pass to Nathan Mensah under the hoop for the layup to push the lead back to three, at 56-53.
“I thought my guy maybe not seeing me come from across the court … was just a wise idea,” he said of the Mensah assist.
Mitchell, though, was off his standard pace for the game, scoring just eight, though he added eight rebounds. Schakel led the Aztecs with 17 points in only 18 minutes, as he faced foul trouble early.
Terrell Gomez and Joshua Tomaic filled the gap in the second half. Gomez scored seven of his nine points to begin the half, to put the Aztecs up 31-24. Tomaic’s seven all came after the break.
San Diego State’s defense stifled the Broncos, forcing them to launch a series of errant three-point attempts. They made just two of 18 shots from beyond the arc in the first half. SDSU also held high-scoring Boise State far below their game average of 76 points for the second game in a row.
The UNLV (11-12, 8-8 in MW) game, in Las Vegas, starts at 6 p.m. Wednesday and will air on CBS Sports Network.