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Aztecs take care of Broncos for 71-65 victory at Viejas

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Aztecs take care of Broncos for 71-65 victory at Viejas

Redshirt sophomore forward Jalen McDaniels attempts a layup during the Aztecs' 71-65 victory over Boise State on Feb. 16 at Viejas Arena.

Redshirt sophomore forward Jalen McDaniels attempts a layup during the Aztecs' 71-65 victory over Boise State on Feb. 16 at Viejas Arena.

Sam Mayo

Redshirt sophomore forward Jalen McDaniels attempts a layup during the Aztecs' 71-65 victory over Boise State on Feb. 16 at Viejas Arena.

Sam Mayo

Sam Mayo

Redshirt sophomore forward Jalen McDaniels attempts a layup during the Aztecs' 71-65 victory over Boise State on Feb. 16 at Viejas Arena.

by Abraham Jewett, Sports Editor

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San Diego State men’s basketball defeated Boise State, 71-65, on Saturday evening at Viejas Arena.

SDSU used a 16-2 run early in the second period to erase a four-point halftime deficit, and led for the final 17 minutes to win for the sixth time in the past seven games.

The victory keeps the Aztecs (16-9, 8-4 MW) in sole possession of fourth place in the Mountain West Conference standings and avenges the team’s 24-point loss to Boise State on Jan. 5.

Senior guard Devin Watson led SDSU with 19 points, and said he had special words for the Boise players after the team’s loss in Idaho.

“There was a lot of chirping last time we played Boise at their place,” he said.  “I, myself, told them we got something for them when we get back home and I feel like we handled that.”

Boise State (11-15, 6-7 MW) was down by 10 with five minutes left, but was able to cut the Aztecs lead to 68-65 after a 3-pointer by junior guard Justinian Jessup with 26 seconds to play. 

Jessup had a chance to cut the Aztecs lead to one after Watson made one of two free throws, but his last-gasp 3-pointer was off the mark with 22 seconds left.

Redshirt sophomore guard Jalen McDaniels (18 points, seven rebounds), sophomore forward Matt Mitchell (13 points, seven rebounds) and freshman forward Nathan Mensah (10 points, eight rebounds) joined Watson in double figures for SDSU.

Head coach Brian Dutcher said Mensah played a role in limiting Boise State redshirt sophomore Derrick Alston to 12 points, after the 6-foot-8 guard went off for 30 points when the Aztecs played in Boise.

“(Alston is) a very good player,” Dutcher said.  “I just think maybe (Mensah’s) presence at the rim made it harder for him to finish at the basket.”

Mensah added two blocks to his statline, part of a seven block, seven steal night for the Aztecs.

Senior guard Jeremy Hemsley added two blocks of his own and said the team has come together well after the bad loss at Boise.

“We went up there and we got embarrassed, so, I think we’re turning a corner right now,” he said. “We’re playing together as a group and we’re just having a lot of fun out there.”

One area where SDSU appeared to struggle was holding onto the ball, and the Broncos capitalized with 26 points off 16 Aztec turnovers.

“We have to take better care of the ball when we get into these close games,” Dutcher said. “We can’t have that kind of turnovers and hope to keep being rewarded with victories.”

SDSU trailed 29-25 going into halftime, after the teams combined for 19 turnovers during a sloppy opening period which saw Boise State lead for nearly 17 minutes.

Despite the time disparity, the Broncos were in danger of trailing going into the break, but ended the half on a 7-2 run after the Aztecs grabbed their third lead of the game with under four minutes to play.

SDSU never trailed by more than six points during the opening period, but struggled to the tune of 36 percent shooting from the field, including 0-for-6 from 3-point range.

The Aztecs’ main advantage in the first half came at the charity stripe, where it converted on 7-of-10 attempts, compared to 3-of-7 for Boise State – which did not attempt a free-throw until just over six minutes before intermission. 

SDSU will now go for its 13th consecutive conference home victory when it welcomes Nevada to Viejas Arena on Feb. 20.

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