Utes close win to take title

By Marco Villano, Staff Writer

If the old adage “defense wins championships,” is true, crown Utah and San Diego State as co-champions MWC Tournament champions.

After a hard fought defensive battle, the Utes would get the final say as Shaun Green chased down Aztecs guard Richie Williams following a Lawrence Borha missed free throw, to save a potential equalizer. The ball wound up in Green’s arms, he wrapped it up and ran to his teammates as the Utes beat the Aztecs 52-50, tacking on a Mountain West Conference tournament championship to its regular season title.

“I was on the left and I was just hoping we would get (the ball),” Utes guard Carlon Brown said. “I saw it bouncing around and I was like “what was going on’ then (Green) grabbed it and I just ran across the other court and started screaming.”

To say ice water runs through Bohra’s veins would be an understatment. He hit the game winner two days ago against TCU. Against San Diego State he made three big free throws to secure the win for Utah.

With 12 seconds left and the score 49-47, Borha was fouled. He stepped up, stared down the rim and took a deep breath before draining the shot. The same thing went for the second shot, giving the Utes a 51-47 lead. Williams drove down the length of the court and made a huge three for the second time in seven seconds, making it a one-point game, 51-50.

The Aztecs decided to stick with Borha on the line and he was fouled with 5 seconds left. He went through his routine, stepped up and made the first. He wouldn’t be so lucky on the second, but a heads-up play helped the Utes snag the title.

“All I was thinking about was making it,” Borha said. “Then when I missed that last one, I just ran down the court as fast as I could.”

This was as defensive a game as it gets in college basketball. On numerous occasions both teams were forced to chuck-up shots to beat the shot clock, due to the fact that neither team’s defense was giving up any good looks.

Utah shot 33 percent from the field and SDSU shot 35 percent, Boylen explained that a tournament’s format, which forced both teams to play three games in three days accounted for the low shooting percentage. He wanted to get to the rim and draw fouls because of this, which is exactly what his team did.

The Utes won this game from the free throw line. They had 19 more attempts from the stripe than the Aztecs, which resulted in 15 more makes. A team renowned for it’s free throw shooting stepped up when it counted most and made 74 percent of their free throws.

“To win the free throw game by 19 attempts is a big deal,” Boylen said. “Really that to me is the difference maker in the game.”

Borha and Nevill were named to the All-MWC tournament team following the game, with Nevill earning the tournament MVP to pad his conference player of the year status. Nevill finished the game with his 16th double-double of the season with game highs in points (18) and rebounds (15). Besides making clutch free throws, Borha scored 12 points and pulled down three rebounds.

“This is a great way to end my Mountain West Conference career,” Nevill said. “We had our ups and downs and to finish off as a senior with all these accolades and to be able to play with such a great bunch of seniors, a great team, is a great way to finish.”

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Erik Daenitz

Jim Boylen celebrates after cutting down the nets at the Thomas and Mack center. The Utes beat San Diego State 52-50 to win the Mountain West Conference tournament championship.