A second half to forget turned into a game to remember for Boise State, as the Broncos scored seven unanswered points in the final minute to stun UTEP in the opening round of the Puerto Rico Tip-Off at Myrtle Beach.
“That’s what good teams do. They hang in there and find a way to get it done when things aren’t going right,” Boise State coach Leon Rice said. “And things went about as wrong as you could have it go in the second half.”
Boise (3-0) led 34-22 early in the second half, then made only four of their next 24 shots from the field, allowing UTEP (1-1) to go on a 32-11 run and build a 54-45 lead with less than three minutes left.
The Miners still led 56-51 with less than a minute to play. But after a layup by Chris Sengfelder closed the gap to 56-53, Boise repeatedly prevented UTEP from making an inbounds pass. The Miners were forced to call two timeouts, and then turned the ball over on their third attempt.
“I told them in practice that this silly little thing (denying the inbounds) can win us two or three things each year. And sure enough, it helped us today,” Rice said.
The Broncos completed the comeback with five consecutive points from Chandler Hutchison, who was 1-for-12 from the field before making his final two shots, including the game-winner with three seconds left.
“I felt like the shots I missed this game I’ve been making, that I hadn’t really forced much,” Hutchison said. “So that allowed me to keep level-headed at the end.”
The Miners lost despite a double-double performance from Keith Frazier, who finished with 22 points and 10 rebounds.
“Oh boy, that one hurts,” UTEP coach Tim Floyd said. “It’s obviously a very painful, tough loss. We had our opportunities, but we didn’t handle game situations well late.”