BOISE, Idaho – With 8:15 left on the clock, trailing 64-61, the Boise State men’s basketball team needed an elite play to turn the momentum and preserve a key conference win over San Diego State (11-5, 3-2 MW) at home.
Chandler Hutchison filled that role, driving to the basket for the lay-up to pull the Broncos (15-3, 4-1 MW) within two, providing a spark that paved the way for an 83-80 win for Boise State in front of a sell-out crowd of 10,864 at Taco Bell Arena – 20th largest all-time, and largest since clinching the conference regular season title against Fresno State on March 7, 2015.
"It was really hard, even in the locker room, to put that into words," head coach Leon Rice said. "It’s the best performance I’ve ever seen on this court, for sure, one of the best I’ve ever seen period. He just took us on his back, and he just battled, and got us through when nobody else scored. It was as impressive of an effort as I’ve seen."
The senior shot 15-of-21 from the field, while adding seven rebounds. Hutchison scored 25 points in the first half – the most points in a half by a Boise State player since Derrick Marks scored 26 points in the second half against Colorado State (Jan. 27, 2015).
“The whole time I was thinking we just needed to finish the game," Hutchison said. "Some things didn’t go our way, we kept battling, but honestly I wasn’t even looking up there to see how much I was scoring. The biggest thing to me was the win because I know how much it means to these guys and our coaches. To perform like that, it is extra.”
Lexus Williams and Justinian Jessup added 16 and 10 points, respectively. The win separates the Broncos from the rest of the Mountain West, placing them in sole possession of second-place in the conference.
Bronco Rewind, folks.— Boise State MBB (@BroncoSportsMBB) January 14, 2018
If you were one of the lucky 10,874 in the building tonight, well done.
If not, we have good news... There are six more chances to watch this team play at Taco Bell Arena this season! #BleedBlue pic.twitter.com/o1r8AXjd0Z
The Aztecs withstood every punch Boise State threw over the final eight minutes, jumping to a 70-66 lead with 6:24 remaining. Hutchison again drove to the basket to pull within two, and made back-to-back three pointers, and Justinian Jessup followed up with a three of his own to give Boise State a 77-75 lead.
Boise State moved to an 81-77 lead off a pair of free throws from Lexus Williams. The Aztecs converted on the other end, and the Broncos turned the ball over on a shot clock violation with 29-seconds left. San Diego State’s Jalen McDaniels was fouled on the other end, giving the Aztecs the opportunity to tie the game.
The atmosphere of 10,864 fans came through as McDaniels missed the first attempt, but made the second.
Hobbs threw a baseball pass to Hutchison on the inbounds at the opposite end of the court. Hutchison was intentionally fouled, putting him at the line for two shots and ensuring Boise State maintained possession. Hutchison made both, and was fouled with 12 seconds remaining.
Hutchison missed his one free throw attempt, giving the Aztecs one last attempt to make a three to force overtime. Both attempts from beyond the arc didn’t go in, preserving the Bronco win.
Thanks to a promise he made, Rice waded through the Boise River to celebrate the team's first sellout in three years.
According to the Idaho Statesman, he waded across the 37-degree water in the afternoon, and the adventure was shown on the video board in the second half.