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Aztecs fall to Boise State, 83-80, in road thriller

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Aztecs fall to Boise State, 83-80, in road thriller

Devin Watson goes up for a shot during the Aztecs 85-49 victory over San Jose State on Jan. 9 at Viejas Arena.

Devin Watson goes up for a shot during the Aztecs 85-49 victory over San Jose State on Jan. 9 at Viejas Arena.

Photo by Samantha Bonpensiero

Devin Watson goes up for a shot during the Aztecs 85-49 victory over San Jose State on Jan. 9 at Viejas Arena.

Photo by Samantha Bonpensiero

Photo by Samantha Bonpensiero

Devin Watson goes up for a shot during the Aztecs 85-49 victory over San Jose State on Jan. 9 at Viejas Arena.

by Abraham Jewett, Assistant Sports Editor

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Chandler Hutchison stood at the free throw line with 12.1 seconds left on the clock as Boise State held onto an 83-80 lead over San Diego State men’s basketball.

The Broncos senior guard bounced the ball two times, paused for a moment, and clanked his shot off the back of the rim.

The miss was a rare mistake for Hutchison, who finished with a career-high 44 points on 15 of 21 shooting, setting a Boise State record.

Aztecs freshman forward Matt Mitchell snagged the rebound and passed the ball to junior guard Devin Watson, who ran down the court and launched a deep three-point shot which clanked off the side of the rim.

Mitchell grabbed the rebound and ran to the far right corner, putting up a last second three-point heave over two Broncos defenders.

The ball hit the rim and bounced directly up in the air, hanging precariously before falling to the court as the buzzer sounded and Boise State (15-3, 5-1 MW) rejoiced.

Another road game, another tough loss for the Aztecs.

The loss ended a three-game winning streak for SDSU, which falls to 11-5 on the season – including 4-4 away from home – and 3-2 in Mountain West Conference play.

The Aztecs had four of their five starters finish in double figures, with Watson leading the way with 19 points to go with eight assists and four rebounds.

Senior forward Malik Pope finished with 18 points and nine rebounds, while freshman forwards Mitchell and Jalen McDaniels finished with 16 and 13 points, respectively.

The Aztecs stuck around during a first half where Hutchison scored the first 16 points for the Broncos, and the team trailed at halftime 40-34 after falling behind by as many as 11 points before the break.

In the second half the Aztecs led by as many as four points, after a three-pointer by Watson gave the team a 70-66 lead with 6:24 to play.

Faced with a deficit on a night where Boise trailed for just 5:39, Hutchison made three straight shots – a layup and two three-pointers – to give the Broncos a 74-72 lead with 3:26 left.

SDSU retook the lead on the very next possession, however, after freshman guard Jordan Schakel (six points) drilled a three-pointer to give the Aztecs a 75-74 lead with 2:59 remaining.

After a three-point shot from Boise sophomore guard Justinian Jessup (10 points), Mitchell snagged an offensive rebound on a missed three-pointer by Watson and put it back up for a layup to tie the game at 77 with 2:11 to play.

Jessup was fouled while driving in for a layup on the Broncos next possession, and the sophomore sunk both free throws to give the team a 79-77 lead with 1:39 left.

Senior guard Trey Kell – who shot only two of 14 from the field while finishing with five points –  missed a three-pointer which would have given the Aztecs the lead, and instead the ball went back to Boise.  

Two free throws from senior guard Lexus Williams (16 points) gave the Broncos an 81-79 lead with 1:09 left on the clock.

The Aztecs cut the lead to 81-80 after a layup from Pope, a Boise turnover, and a free throw from McDaniels, but on the ensuing Broncos possession, Mitchell was called for an intentional foul as Hutchison went up for a layup, granting two free throws to Boise along with possession of the ball.

Hutchison made both free throws to give the Broncos the 83-80 lead, before missing the free throw which gave SDSU its final chance.

The Aztecs next game will be at Viejas Arena on Jan. 16 against Fresno State University.

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