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LOGAN — The Boise State Broncos have won their last two contests at the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum, so when they fell behind by three points with 5:22 to play, there were no feelings of desperation or urgency.
Instead the Broncos went on a 13-2 run over the next four minutes to beat Utah State 83-80 in the Mountain West Conference opener for both teams. It was the fourth straight victory over the Aggies and third straight win in Logan for Boise State.
"Obviously an extremely frustrating finish," USU head coach Tim Duryea said. "Probably the most frustrating thing I have ever seen in coaching college basketball when you can't get a missed free throw rebound and they've got one guy on the line and we can't come up with it multiple times."
Boise State improves to 8-4 and 1-0 in Mountain West Conference play while USU drops to 7-5 and 0-1 to start the conference season. The loss is also the third straight loss to a Division I opponent at home for the Aggies.
Leading 39-35 out of the halftime break, Boise State scored five quick points to push the lead to nine at 44-35, capped by a Chandler Hutchison layup. Hutchison finished with a team-high 21 points on the night.
However, the Aggies slowly crept back into the game, especially with guards Shane Rector and Koby McEwen coming to life.
McEwen and Rector combined to score nine of the next 11 points for USU, and the Aggies cut the deficit to 46-44 with 14:45 to play. Jalen Moore, who finished with a game-high 24 points, then hit two free throws and tied the ballgame with 12:57 to play.
In a game of runs, Boise State used a little 7-3 run to take a 55-50 lead with 10:44. But USU went on a 9-3 run of its own to take a 61-58 lead with 5:22 to play.
"I thought we had stretches where we played really well," Duryea said. "I thought we had some really good individual performances. I thought Shane Rector played extremely well and was very efficient. You can see Alex Dargenton, his confidence is growing every night out. … I thought Koby McEwen showed a lot of character after a really poor first half, coming out in the second half and not hanging his head and really getting after it and making some things happen."
Unfortunately for the Aggies, they went cold over the next three minutes and Boise State took advantage with an 11-0 run to take a 69-61 lead with 2:13 to play.
USU was forced to foul the rest of the way but didn't stop playing. McEwen scored 11 of his 17 points in the final minute to help USU cut the deficit to two after completing the and-one opportunity with three seconds to play.
However, Justinian Jessup missed the second free throw with two seconds left, and USU failed to secure the rebound to end the game. The Broncos hit 12 of 18 free throws down the stretch to keep the game just out of reach of an Aggie comeback.
"He (McEwen) has the mentality to be a closer," Duryea said. "He wants to be a closer. We have to start leaning that direction late in games. But what we have to do is not wait until it's desperation time to make shots."
Moore was joined in double figures by McEwen with 17 points, Rector with 15 points and Alex Dargenton with 11.
The Aggies will look to bounce back on Saturday at Air Force and then Wednesday back at home against New Mexico in a 9 p.m. MST tipoff.
Kyle McDonald is sports fan who loves the Chicago Cubs and the Utah Valley University Wolverines. He is a communication major at UVU and will graduate in the spring of 2017. Follow him on Twitter at @kylesportsbias