SAN DIEGO -- Chase Tapley felt so bad Saturday morning he didn't believe he would play against Colorado State. But the San Diego State senior guard left Rams feeling ill, rescuing the Aztecs with a clutch performance late in the game.
Tapley scored 12 of his 19 points in overtime as 16th-ranked San Diego State avoided an upset and pulled out a 79-72 Mountain West Conference victory in overtime on Saturday night before 12,414 at Viejas Arena.
Tapley's play in overtime allowed the Aztecs to survive a dreadful second half, when they blew an 18-point and struggled offensively.
"I just tried to put the ball in the basket," said Tapley, who hit two 3-pointers in overtime and had two steals, including one he turned into a layup in overtime. "Thank God they were falling in overtime."
Tapley said flu-like symptoms took a toll. He managed just 3-of-9 shooting from the field in regulation before catching fire in overtime.
"It started (Friday night), the aching and the sore throat," Tapley said. "(Saturday) morning it was worst. I didn't think I was going to play. But the grace of God gave me the strength to play tonight."
Tapley was the difference in the outcome, Colorado State coach Larry Eustachy said.
"We couldn't stop Tapley," he said. "That was the story."
Eustachy, in his first season as Rams coach, added that his team blew a big opportunity.
"We have to change the culture at Colorado State," he said. "I'm not sure if the players expected to come out here and win or not, but not being able to finish out the game is not how we're going to win games."
Jamaal Franklin scored 23 points, 18 in the first half, to lead the Aztecs (14-2, 2-0). Franklin also had seven rebounds. Guard Xavier Thames, who returned after a one-game absence because of a back injury, added 14 points.
Guard West Eikmeier led Colorado State (13-3, 0-1) with 22 points. Center Colton Iverson finished with 18 points, 11 rebounds, two blocks and a steal. Guard Daniel Bejarano chipped in 13 points and 11 rebounds.
Iverson's putback tied the score at 63 with 15 seconds remaining and forced overtime. San Diego State didn't have much of an answer for the 6-foot-10, 261-pound senior.
"He almost fouled out probably all our bigs," Franklin said. "He's a great player, real strong and real big. The guy can move his feel really well down low. Colorado State is probably the best rebounding team we've played so far."
The Rams hammered San Diego State on the boards 54-38, including 19-8 on the offensive end.
But it was the Colorado State defense, which forced San Diego State to miss 22 of its 28 shots from the field (21.4 percent) in the second half compared to 16 of 33 (48.5 percent) for Colorado State, that changed the game after intermission. Overall, the Aztecs shot 38.7 percent (24-62) compared to 36 percent (27-75) for Colorado State.
"In the second half, Colorado State stepped up their defense and made it tough on us making shots," Franklin said.
The game didn't start that way. San Diego State rode its three-point shooting to a commanding 41-23 lead at the half. All eight of the initial field goals the Aztecs made came via 3-pointers as they jumped to a 26-15 after a 3-pointer by Franklin with 8:09 left.
They missed their first six shots inside the arc until forward JJ O'Brien converted a baseline jumper as part of a three-point play for a 31-21 advantage with 3:47 remaining.
San Diego State followed that with a 10-2 run to end the half.
The Aztecs hit 13 of 27 shots (48.1 percent) in the first half. They were 10 of 18 on 3-pointers (55.6 percent).
Colorado State missed 25 of its 34 attempts (26.5 percent) and managed just 2 of 10 on three-pointers.
Rebounding allowed the Rams to stay within striking distance until the Aztecs bolted late in the half. Colorado State had a 21-19 rebounding edge, with 11 of those coming on the offensive end to only four for San Diego State.