San Diego State had won 164 consecutive games when leading with five minutes remaining before watching that 6-year-old streak end Saturday in nightmarish fashion.
While Boise State deserves credit for making the plays to win the game 66-63, the truth is the Aztecs did it to themselves. Three players combined to miss six consecutive free throws in the final 64 seconds, allowing the Broncos to overcome a nine-point deficit in the same span and win by three.
— GoAztecs.com (@GoAztecs) February 28, 2016
If Winston Shepard, Jeremy Hemsley and Trey Kell had combined to make three of six at the foul line in crunch time, the game goes to overtime and who knows what might have happened.
It’s not as if any of the three Aztecs are terrible free throw shooters either. Shepard is making 74 percent of his attempts this season, Hemsley is almost an 80 percent free throw shooter and Kell is making 64 perent of his foul shots. But they misfired a total of seven straight times in the final 1:40 and watched one of the more impressive streaks in college basketball end because of it.
The last time San Diego State lost when holding a lead with five minutes to go in a game was Jan. 9, 2010 against Wyoming.
[Texas takes advantage of Oklahoma drought for best win of season]
While the Aztecs were missing the mark, Boise State junior Nick Duncan made two 3-pointers in the Broncos’s winning run and Mikey Thompson, Paris Austin and Anthony Drmic combined to go 6-for-6 at the free throw line.
The streak’s end is certainly a sour note for the Aztecs, but what it might do to their NCAA Tournament hopes could be even more crushing. Going into Saturday, San Diego State was the only Mountain West team projected to be in March Madness and that’s assuming the Aztecs win the conference tournament. It’s been a really ugly year for the conference.
If another team steals the automatic bid from the Aztecs by winning the Mountain West tournament, coach Steve Fisher and his team could be on the outside looking in because of a lackluster nonconference record and the fact that being good in the Mountain West this season has been nothing about which to brag.
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