Everyday in practice, the No. 18 San Diego State men’s basketball team spends the last eight minutes spot shooting.
And everyday in practice, sophomore guard Jamaal Franklin takes one last shot as the clock strikes zero.
Obviously, practice makes perfect.
Franklin hit an off-balance, highly contested 3-pointer at the buzzer to lead the Aztecs to a victory over Boise State, 65-62, in the quarterfinals of the Mountain West Conference Tournament.
“I believed in myself,” Franklin said. “I always practice the last shot. When it left my hand, I knew it was going in.”
The Broncos knew the ball would be going to Franklin for the last shot, but it didn’t matter.
“Our guys couldn’t have guarded it any better,” Broncos head coach Leon Rice said. “But, you know, a great player like that is a shot maker, especially at the end of the game. You got to give him credit. He made a heck of a shot. That’s why he’s player of the year in our league.”
As SDSU celebrated the game-winning shot, several Boise State players collapsed to the floor in disbelief, disbelief its season had ended in such a heartbreaking fashion.
After leading at halftime and then allowing the Aztecs to build an 11-point lead with 6:43 to go, a lead that would eventually lower to eight with only three minutes left, the Broncos clawed their way back to tie the game with only 27 seconds left. It was then when Franklin broke the hearts of the Broncos.
“Our game today is indicative of how close the level is in our league,” SDSU head coach Steve Fisher said. “People would have talked if they won, ‘Oh, what a big upset it was.’ This is an outstanding basketball league. There are no big upsets.”
Franklin finished with 19 points, as junior guard Chase Tapley scored 20 and sophomore guard Xavier Thames added 14.
With the win, SDSU became only one of seven schools to win at least 25 games in four consecutive seasons.