No. 18 SDSU still chasing MWC title, must beat Wyoming
No. 18 San Diego State badly collapsed in its first attempt to clinch the Mountain West regular season title.
The Aztecs get another shot Saturday night when they host last-place Wyoming, a team it has defeated nine consecutive times.
San Diego State (23-6, 14-3 MWC) held an eight-point lead with 4:48 remaining on Tuesday night and never scored again. Host Boise State ripped off the game’s final 14 points to claim a 66-60 victory and moved within one game of the first-place Aztecs.
“Disappointing, disappointing,” San Diego State guard Lamont Butler said afterward. “We didn’t make enough plays at the end of the game to do it, and credit to them, they did.”
It marked the second straight late-game meltdown for the Aztecs. Last Saturday at New Mexico, San Diego State led by four points with under 20 seconds to play before the Lobos rallied to move ahead.
On that occasion, Butler saved the day with a 3-pointer as time expired to give the Aztecs a 73-71 victory.
But in Boise, there was no stopping the Broncos’ ferocious finishing kick.
“I told the team, ‘Sometimes in basketball, you don’t get what you deserve,'” San Diego State coach Brian Dutcher said. “(Tuesday) night, we got what we deserved. We didn’t execute down the stretch.”
The loss snapped a six-game winning streak and was just the Aztecs’ third setback in 19 games.
Matt Bradley scored 16 points and Micah Parrish added 11 for San Diego State.
Bradley leads the Aztecs in scoring at 13.1 points per game. Darrion Trammell (10.1) is the only other San Diego State player scoring in double digits. Butler established career bests of 23 points and five 3-pointers and Bradley scored 18 points when the Aztecs recorded an 80-75 win at Wyoming on Jan. 7.
Cowboys star Hunter Maldonado scored 20 points.
Maldonado became the Mountain West’s all-time career assists leader when he had 11 during Monday’s 80-71 upset of visiting Nevada. It raised his career total to 625 as he passed New Mexico’s Kendall Williams (617 from 2010-14) for the top spot.
Maldonado, a sixth-year senior, toppled the record in his final home game, and also poured in 25 points for Wyoming (9-20, 4-13).
“It’s kind of starting to hit me now,” Maldonado said afterward. “It’s really emotional but there’s no better way to go out.”
Jeremiah Oden scored a career-best 28 points for the Cowboys, who won for just the fourth time in their past 19 games.
Wyoming coach Jeff Linder’s team made the NCAA Tournament last season before sliding downhill to notch the program’s third 20-loss campaign in five seasons.
Monday’s victory represented one of the high points of this season.
“It was a collective effort,” Linder said of the triumph. “I’m just so happy that our guys were able to win the last game at home in that way. It’s been a trying season, some trying times, but at the end of the day I’m just thankful for those guys who are still in our locker room.”
The Cowboys have lost 14 consecutive games on San Diego State’s home floor dating back to 2007.
–Field Level Media