Late-game heroics are becoming somewhat of a standard now for the San Diego State men’s basketball team through this young season.
Yet, instead of using a dramatic, full-court layup in the closing seconds to win the game in regulation, the Aztecs sealed the victory Saturday afternoon at the free-throw line in overtime.
Sophomore guard Jamaal Franklin hit two free throws with 3.9 seconds left in overtime to lead SDSU to a victory against Long Beach State, 77-73, at Viejas Arena.
“It would have been a little different if it was away, but I’m at home so the crowd’s going to be quiet,” Franklin said. “It’s like shooting in practice and I’ve been shooting well at the free-throw line.”
Franklin scored 14 second-half points to lead the team with 21 points. Junior guard James Rahon also contributed 20 points, while sophomore guard Xavier Thames added eight points in overtime to finish with 15 points for the Aztecs.
“This was a wonderful team victory by everybody,” SDSU head coach Steve Fisher said. “That was a good team we played, and we competed hard. We feel good about ourselves.”
With this victory, SDSU (5-1) improved its home winning streak against unranked opponents to 47 and has won 11 of its past 12 overtime games, including two consecutive wins.
Casper Ware led Long Beach State’s 49ers (2-1) in scoring with 26 points, including knocking down a pair of free throws with 3.3 seconds in regulation to tie the score and send the game into overtime. Larry Anderson also chipped in 25 points for Long Beach State.
Coming into this game, many wondered if either team would struggle after coming off such emotional wins in their previous games. SDSU used a game-winning basket with 1.8 seconds left to defeat the University of Southern California at home on Thursday night, while Long Beach State was fresh off its big upset against No. 9 Pittsburgh on Wednesday night.
“We knew they were a great team, especially after their game against Pittsburgh,” Rahon said. “We just had to play tough, play defense and get back in transition. I think we played tough. Hopefully all the fans keep coming back and watch us.”