Two teams coming in on polar ends of the spectrum left everyone wondering how the game would play out. Boise State was playing their 5th game in 11 days, coming off of a single day of rest after edging Utah State on Thursday. On the flip side, San Diego State had not played a game since they routed Colorado State by thirty on January 8th due to COVID postponements.
Boise State jumped out to a 6-0 lead, and it stayed that way until the 14:01 mark when Nathan Mensah cashed a layup, allowing the Aztec faithful to finish their tradition of clapping until San Diego State makes a basket. The game would be tightly contested up to the half. With seconds to go, Trey Pulliam put up a mid-range floater from the left side of the lane to give the Aztecs their first lead of the game, 23-22.
The second half was even more of a rock fight than the first, with scoreless runs from both sides. Boise State took ahold of the game as they went on a 13-1 run. San Diego State wouldn’t make their first basket of the second half until 9:48 on the game clock. The tables turned as the Aztecs slowly closed the gap to one with 5:21 left to go. It would be nearly three more minutes before Lamont Butler put San Diego State back on top with a corner three, making it 37-35. Before Boise State could respond, the Aztecs fed Butler once again and nearly iced the game with another three. However, the shot that could have given San Diego State their 300th win at Viejas Arena traveled a full 360 degrees on the rim before missing and falling into the arms of Emmanuel Akot.
A Mladen Armus offensive rebound that bounced towards Tyson Degenhart led to a loose ball foul and a chance to tie the ballgame at 37 with 1:04 left. Degenhart, the true freshman from Spokane, Washington, stepped up to the line and made the first of a one-and-one, followed calmly by the second. Those two free throws snapped a 9:51 scoring drought for the Broncos and gave them the energy for one last push on both ends of the floor.
Tell me if you’ve heard this before, but San Diego State’s Matt Bradley missed a three on the ensuing possession and Leon Rice elected once again to not take a timeout and let his players make a play. After Akot passed to Marcus Shaver, Degenhart set a phantom screen, allowing Shaver to spin to an open spot behind the three-point line on the left wing. Shaver hoisted the shot up with all the energy he had left, and watched it fall through the net to give the Broncos a three-point lead with 30 seconds left. After an Aztec timeout, the Broncos smothered each person on the floor, determined to prevent any good shot from getting off. Matt Bradley was forced into a heavily-contested fadeaway that would fall well short of any iron as once again, Tyson Degenhart corralled the ball and would be fouled with minimal time on the clock. He stepped up to the line with the confidence of a 5th year senior, nailing both free throws and cementing a 42-37 win for Boise State.
As far as individual stats go, only two players for each team reached double-digits. For the Aztecs, Nathan Mensah had ten points along with nine rebounds while Lamont Butler had ten points as well, capitalizing on two three-pointers. Boise State’s Tyson Degenhart had 14 points, going a perfect eight for eight from the foul line. Marcus Shaver went for 13 points while converting three of his six attempts from beyond the arc. A nice sight for the Broncos was Max Rice making his second three-pointer of the season as he thanked the heavens for finally seeing one go through.
Going forward, San Diego State will hope to knock the rust off and bounce back when they host UNLV on Monday, January 24th at 6:00 PST. This game will be televised on CBS Sports Network.
For Boise State, it was a welcome sight to go 9 of 11 from the free throw line, thanks to the effort of Degenhart. The Broncos will look forward to their extra day of rest and prepare to host the Wyoming Cowboys on Tuesday. The winner of this game will hold sole possession of first place in the Mountain West.
Boise State looks to extend their winning streak to 13, which would tie the school record. The game is scheduled for 7:00 MST and the broadcast is to be determined.