Utah State built upon that momentum, starting the second half on an 8-2 run to close the deficit to only two points. The Broncos proved their talent, however, pushing the lead back to 51-41 in less than three minutes of game time. Yet again, the Aggies remained calm, battling back with a 14-3 run of their own to take their first lead of the game at 55-54 with 11:12 remaining in the contest. Merrill scored 10 straight points for USU during the run.
“The best players have to play the best when it comes to surviving,” McEwen said. “I thought Sam did a tremendous job today scoring the ball and defending well.”
Over the final 10 minutes of the game, the teams were engaged in an all-out war of basketball with neither team able to build a lead larger than five points. In games decided by single digits, Boise State had gone 11-4 entering Thursday’s contest and looked poise to win again. But the Aggies stayed calm, with McEwen scoring 10 points during that stretch to carry USU to the finish line.
Finally, with 31 seconds left in the game, Merrill drained his seventh 3-pointer of the night to give Utah State a four-point lead, their largest of the game.