It’s not often that a No. 1 seed drops its opening game in the Mountain West Tournament.
Going into Thursday’s games at the Thomas & Mack Center, it had happened just once in 11 years. That was by Air Force in 2004 when the Falcons were upset by Colorado State, 60-48, in 2004 at the Pepsi Center.
San Diego State came dangerously close to joining the Falcons in that category on Thursday afternoon.
The Aztecs (25-6), who blew an 11-point second half lead in the final seven minutes, needed a remarkable 3-point buzzer-beating basket by Mountain West Player of the Year Jamaal Franklin to pull out a 65-62 victory over No. 8 seed Boise State (13-17).
The 6-foot-5 Franklin, whose driving layup with three-tenths of a second remaining was the difference in a 69-67 victory over UNLV on Jan. 14 in San Diego, topped that with his long jumper over a good defensive double-team by Boise State’s Derrick Marks and Thomas Bropleh.
“He just made an incredible shot,” Marks said.
Boise State tied the game, 62-62, on a layup by Bropleh with 27 seconds left. The Aztecs then called time out and set up the play for Franklin who told head coach Steve Fisher in the huddle that he wanted to take the final shot.
Not that everybody didn’t suspect that was going to be the case anyway.
“We knew it was going to Franklin,” Boise State coach Leon Rice said. “Like Derrick said, everybody in the gym knew it was going to Franklin. That’s where it should go, obviously. He showed why it should go there.”
Franklin admitted he was defensed well on his game-winner.
“My first object was to get to the rim,” he said. “They kind of double-teamed me. I just shot the 3. Blessing to God, it went in.”
“Our guys couldn’t have guarded it better,” Rice said. “Derrick almost poked it away to start out with out with, then Thomas did a great job of guarding him without fouling him, too. He threw up a tough, tough shot.”
Chase Tapley scored a game-high 20 points for San Diego State, including 4-of-7 3-pointers, while Franklin finished with 19 points and five rebounds.
Freshman guard Anthony Drmic had 19 points and seven rebounds to lead the Broncos.
COLORADO STATE 81, TCU 60 – The fourth-seed Rams (20-10), playing as well as any team in the Mountain West down the stretch, jumped out to a 42-26 halftime lead and were never really threatened by the Horned Frogs (17-14).
Junior forward Pierce Hornung was the star of the game, finishing with 16 points, 14 rebounds and four steals while guard Wes Eikmeier added 15 points.
TCU was led by Valley High product Hank Thorns Jr. who finished with 19 points and five assists.
Colorado State plays San Diego State in Friday night’s semifinals at 6 p.m.
NEW MEXICO 79, AIR FORCE 64 – The No. 2 seeded Lobos (25-6) jumped out to a 18-point lead in the first half and cruised to an easy victory over the Falcons (13-16).
Demetrius Walker came off the bench to lead New Mexico with 19 points, including 3-of-4 3-pointers, while Drew Gordon added 15 points and seven rebounds in just 24 minutes of action.
Michael Lyons scored 17 points to lead Air Force but was just 4-of-14 from the floor.