Broncos buck Aztecs off of five-game win streak after questionable last-second call

Matt+Bradley+looks+to+begin+a+play+during+SDSUs+game+against+UT+Arlington.+Bradley+had+22+points+against+the+Michigan+Wolverines.

Jason Freund

Matt Bradley looks to begin a play during SDSU’s game against UT Arlington. Bradley had 22 points against the Michigan Wolverines.

by Jason Freund, Sports Editor

Deja vu, thy name is San Diego State.

Facing first-place Boise State (22-6, 13-2 Mountain West Conference) at ExtraMile Arena, the Aztecs (17-7, 9-4 MWC) were making a mad comeback in the second quarter and were in the midst of a final minute that saw the lead change four times.

Suddenly, a light appeared at the end of the tunnel. Senior guard Matt Bradley was fouled with 7.8 seconds remaining in the game and with the Aztecs by just a point. Surely the most reliable free throw shooter wearing the Scarlet and Black would ice the game, right?

Wrong. Both shots clanked off the basket. Flying down the wing, fifth-year forward Abu Kigab drew a foul with 1.7 seconds remaining, sank both of his free throws and the Broncos eked out a narrow 58-57 victory over the Aztecs.

The call with 1.7 seconds on senior forward Nathan Mensah was questionable at best and wasn’t the first time an ill-timed whistle has cost the Aztecs a game. Against Colorado State, a clear foul against Bradley was uncalled and SDSU went on to lose that game.

This time, Kigab drove hard and Mensah, looking to avoid a foul, put his arms up to let Kigab go without fouling. However, both players collided with each other but it looked like Kigab grabbed Mensah in the thigh and pulled him closer to try and draw the foul.

Should it have been called a foul? Probably not. Did it cost SDSU the game? Probably yes.

At first, it didn’t look like the Aztecs were gonna make such a comeback. They only scored 20 points while allowing the Broncos to score 30 points on 40.7 percent shooting. There were also the free throws or, in SDSU’s case, lack of. The Broncos shot eight free throws in the first half while SDSU shot a whopping none.

Staring down a 10-point deficit at halftime, the Scarlet and Black came out of the locker room after halftime on fire. They drained 52.7 percent of their field goals and hit six out of seven shots from beyond the arc.

Boise State, meanwhile, was held to just 26.1 percent field goal shooting and 28 points in the second half.

Everyone pitched in to knock out the first place Broncos. Bradley hadn’t scored a point in the first half yet finished with 12 points, six rebounds and five assists, Mensah posted a double-double with 13 points and 11 rebounds while sophomore Chad Baker-Mazara hit a key 3-point shot to give SDSU a lead in the second half.

Everything was going against the Aztecs. They shouldn’t have been in this game… but they were.

“This game can be (a) great joy or great sorrow. It was tough tonight. We did enough to win. We fought valiantly in the second half,” head coach Brian Dutcher said to goaztecs.com after the game. “(We were) down 10 at the half, fought back, shot 52 percent from the field (in the second half), hit threes and made the stop that I thought would win the game.”

The key stop came right after a Mensah dunk off a lob from Bradley. Redshirt senior guard Marcus Shavers ‒ one of Boise State’s top scorers ‒ hit nothing but air on his 3-point attempt and Bradley snatched up the rebound and was fouled.

At the free-throw line with the chance to ice the game, Bradley shot twice and… clank. Seconds later and Boise State snapped SDSU’s five-game winning streak.