mwc tournament:

San Diego State survives scare from Boise State, advances on Franklin’s buzzer-beater

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Sam Morris

Boise State guard Derrick Marks, left, and Thomas Bropleh react after San Diego State made a last second shot to win their Mountain West Conference Tournament game Thursday, March 8, 2012. San Diego State won 65-62.

MWC Tournament - San Diego State v. Boise State

San Diego State guard Chase Tapley reacts after making a basket during their Mountain West Conference Tournament game against Boise State Thursday, March 8, 2012. San Diego State won 65-62. Launch slideshow »

When San Diego State’s Jamaal Franklin received the ball at the top of the 3-point line with the final seconds running off the clock Thursday in the Mountain West Conference quarterfinals against Boise State, the 6-foot-5 sophomore guard had one thing on his mind.

“My first object was to get to the rim,” Franklin said. “But they kind of double-teamed me. I just shot the three. Blessing to God, it went in.”

Franklin’s 3-pointer as time expired lifted top-seeded San Diego State to a 65-62 victory against Boise State, capping a back-and-forth game that included five ties and seven lead changes.

Franklin, the league’s Player of the Year, finished with 19 points on 6-of-10 shooting to help the two-time defending tournament champion Aztecs advance to Friday’s semifinals. This was his third game-winning bucket of the year, also beating UNLV and Boise State with his clutch shooting.

“I know he wants to be that guy to hit the last-second shot,” said San Diego State guard Chase Tapley, who scored a game-best 20 points. “Spot shooting in practice, he goes five, four, three, two, one and knocks it down. I'm not surprised at all.”

San Diego State, which is ranked No. 18 nationally, led 60-52 with four minutes remaining and seemed in cruise control. But Boise State went on a 10-2 run to even the game with about 25 seconds to play, using a 3-pointer from Anthony Drmic to trim its deficit to 60-55 with about two minutes left.

After Drmic made a pair of foul shots with 38 seconds to play to cut the deficit to 62-60, Boise State came up with a steal underneath its basket and quick field goal to even the game at 62-all.

Following a timeout, Franklin appeared to be running out of time near the top of the 3-point arc. That’s when he heaved up a shot from about 25 feet, hitting nothing but net for the game-winning points.

“We feel fortunate that we're moving on. But we got guys that make plays,” San Diego State coach Steve Fisher said. “Right to the end where Jamaal was Jamaal. He's unafraid. Drive it or shoot it, he had the option, made the basket.”

Franklin was clutch all game.

Boise State led by nine points with 6:56 to play in the first half, but Franklin quickly cut into the deficit with a 3-pointer in scoring a game-high nine first-half points. Tapley added seven points for San Diego State, rattling in a 3-pointer with 1:24 to play in the half for a 30-28 San Diego State lead.

But Boise State, which had one win this year outside its home state of Idaho, didn’t back down in scoring the final four points of the half. Kenny Buckner, who had eight first-half points on 4-of-5 shooting, converted a short jumper in the final seconds for the halftime lead.

Boise State did several things right in its upset bid. The Broncos shot 52 percent, made 4 of 7 on 3-pointers and held a 17-10 edge in rebounds in the first half.

However, in the second half, San Diego State opened on a 24-14 run and led by as many as 11 points. Credit Boise State for not throwing in the towel in the final four minutes — a rally that nearly gave the Broncos (13-17) a big-time upset.

Drmic paced Boise State with 19 points, while three others reached doubles figures — Thomas Bropleh with 11 points, and Kenny Buckner and Derrick Marks with 10 apiece.

“Our game, I believe, is indicative of how close the level is in our league,” Fisher said. “It's an outstanding basketball league where there are no upsets. People would have talked, had they won, big upset. We had a two-point game at our place, they missed a three at the buzzer.”

Ray Brewer can be reached at 990-2662 or [email protected]. Follow Ray on Twitter at twitter.com/raybrewer21.

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