Boise State won their first-ever Mountain West Championship game against San Diego State 53-52 on Saturday, March 12.
“I just can’t say enough about these guys,” said redshirt senior Abu Kigab. “The unity, the commitment, the determination and relentlessness. They just keep going, even when things aren’t going well. It’s just unbelievable, and I’m so happy to be a part of something special like this.”
The No. 3 seed San Diego State had recently upset the No. 2 seed Colorado State in the Semifinal round, and only had to defeat the Broncos to become back-to-back Mountain West Tournament champions.
Both teams battled hard and were neck and neck throughout, with the largest lead in the game being only five points. Both teams were within three points of each other throughout the whole first half.
With the game being tied at 47 with 7:04 left in the game, redshirt guard Max Rice put the Broncos up top with a free throw. Redshirt senior forward Mladen Armus extended this lead by completing a layup and one.
San Diego State then landed a jumper to make it a one-point game with 1:51 left.
With the game on the line, San Diego State had the final possession of the game with 29 seconds left.
The Aztecs missed their layup attempt and their second-chance attempt leading to freshman forward Tyson Degenhart tipping the ball over to redshirt senior guard Emmanuel Akot and securing the Boise State victory.
“It’s only fitting that this team bows their neck and is able to get a stop on that last possession against a tough team,” Coach Rice said. “That’s so typical of this group. Whatever’s needed, they step up and do.”
Degenhart had a team-high 14 points and Rice had a team and season-high 9 rebounds.
Kigab finished the game off with 11 points and was named the Mountain West Tournament MVP.
“Everyone cares about the team, and guys are willing to sacrifice whatever it takes,” Kigab said. “We all know that, in order to win, you have to sacrifice, and the guys have done a tremendous job of that.”
The win also gives the Broncos an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament and will play Memphis in the first round of March Madness.
“We’re definitely happy that we punched our ticket,” Akot said. “But there’s a lot of work to be done still.”