BOISE — As the final seconds ticked away Wednesday at Taco Bell Arena, San Diego State guard Jamaal Franklin stood at half court and flipped the ball to Boise State freshman Derrick Marks.
The Bronco took it to the other end, uncontested and made the layup as time expired.
That was about as good as Boise State looked with the ball all night, falling 66-53 to the No. 21 Aztecs in the Broncos’ home finale.
“There was a lid on the rim,” Boise State senior guard Wes Perryman said. “… It all boiled down to making shots. They made shots and we didn’t.”
It almost was a wonder that Marks’ layup didn’t somehow miss — the Broncos were 20-of-49 from the field Wednesday, making just 2-of-16 3-pointers and 11-of-25 free throws.
On the other end, San Diego State made 50 percent of its attempts from the field, shooting a 60 percent clip in the first half, taking a 38-22 halftime lead.
“We don’t have a lot of guys where if we’re missing shots we can just throw it in to score every time — we have to make some perimeter shots,” Boise State coach Leon Rice said. “I’m just disappointed in 11-for-25 from the line and 2-for-16 from 3.”
Boise State (13-15, 3-10 MWC) played one of its most inspired games of the season the first time it faced the Aztecs, falling 58-56 on the road Feb. 1, a game in which the Broncos had a 33-25 halftime edge. On Wednesday, the Broncos owned a quick 6-5 lead, but the Aztecs scored 23 of the next 35 points and the Broncos never were within double digits again.
“I told them at halftime that’s as good a half, if you look at both sides of the ball, as we have played in an important game,” San Diego State coach Steve Fisher said.
Jeff Elorriaga’s 3-pointer with 5 minutes, 56 seconds to play ensured the Broncos a 335th straight game with a 3-pointer and ended a skid where they missed their first 12 tries from downtown in the game. That 3-pointer came after the Aztecs had stretched the lead to a game-high 22 points (59-37).
“We just had little spurts where it was just dead,” senior guard Tre Nichols said. “We’d get up a little bit, get the crowd back into it, but we’d have minor mistakes like a turnover and it went downhill from there.”
Nichols and Perryman combined for nine points, making 3-of-13 shots from the field. Once the Aztecs were able to answer any sort of Bronco run, the wind was taken out of the Boise State sails.
“Everything starts to crumble once you keep missing shots and they’re going on their runs and you see the score going up and up and up — it kinda just deflates you as a player,” Perryman said.
Boise State, losers of three straight, will seek to end its skid before entering Mountain West tournament play with a road game Saturday at New Mexico, where the Lobos are 13-2 and seeking the top seed in next week’s tournament.
“It just doesn’t get any easier,” Rice said.