For the second straight year, the Boise State men’s basketball lost a heartbreaker at one of college basketball’s toughest arenas.
Trailing for most of the game Wednesday, the Broncos held a lead in the final seconds, but San Diego State’s Chase Tapley hit a 3-pointer with 2.8 seconds to play to give the Aztecs a 63-62 home win.
“He’s a big shot maker, and he had a good look,” Boise State coach Leon Rice said after the game on KBOI 670 AM.
Boise State (15-7, 3-5) lost 58-56 at Viejas Arena last Feb. 1, but had a 3-point attempt miss at the buzzer. With Wednesday’s win, the Aztecs (17-5, 5-3) improved to 41-4 at home since the start of the 2010-11 season. San Diego State also beat Boise State in the Mountain West tournament last March on a 3-pointer at the buzzer in a 65-62 win.
Mikey Thompson hit a 3-pointer with 3 minutes, 20 seconds to play to break a 58-58 tie. After a San Diego State layup with 14 seconds left, Derrick Marks missed the back end of a pair of free throws with 11 seconds to go.
Jamaal Franklin took the rebound, drove, and lost a handle on it, but Tapley was there to grab it and make the game-winner for San Diego State, which was 9-of-24 from the field and 4-of-11 at the free-throw line in the second half. Boise State was 2-of-4 on free throws in the second half.
“Any way you slice it, sometimes it comes down to if you can make your free throws at the end, and it opened the door for them to make a game-winner,” Rice said.
James Rahon paced the Aztecs with 16 points, Franklin had 14 points and eight rebounds, while Tapley had 12 points. Thompson and Marks led Boise State with 16 points apiece — all 16 for Marks came in the second half.
“For him to take another step, he’s got to elevate that first half,” Rice said.
Boise State trailed 38-28 at halftime, down by as much as 17. Kenny Buckner has 10 points and five rebounds to pace Boise State in the first half, which is 11-of-34 from the field (32.4 percent). He did not score again.
“He had a really, really good first half,” Rice said.
The Broncos will host Wyoming on Saturday at 6 p.m. When the two met Jan. 9 in Laramie, Wyo., Jeff Elorriaga made a 3-pointer at the buzzer for a 63-61 win.
Sophomore guard Igor Hadziomerovic, who missed last Saturday’s win over UNLV with a foot injury, made the trip to San Diego, but did not play Wednesday, as he was kept out of the game with an illness.
Hadziomerovic has started 18 games, averaging 6.1 points per game.
The Aztecs were without point guard Xavier Thames (back), and had been 1-2 without him before Wednesday’s win.