SAN DIEGO (AP) – The Colorado State Rams trailed No. 16 San Diego State by 18 points and halftime and 13 points with less than eight minutes to go.
Then they managed to tie it and send it into overtime.
That wasn’t good enough for coach Larry Eustachy, because Chase Tapley scored 12 of his 19 points in overtime, including two 3-pointers and a layup off a steal, and the Aztecs held off Colorado State 79-72 Saturday night.
“We have to change the culture here at Colorado State,” Eustachy said. “I’m not sure if the players expected to come out here and win or not. Not being able to finish out the game is not how we are going to be. We’re used to it. This is what we’ve accepted and it’s no longer acceptable. It starts with me and obviously, I haven’t been able to get the team quite over the hump.”
After Colton Iverson made two free throws for a 65-63 lead 57 seconds into overtime, Tapley re-energized the Aztecs (14-2, 2-0 Mountain West). He made a jumper for the Aztecs’ first field goal since 7:43 left in regulation and then hit a 3-pointer for a 68-65 lead with 3:14 left.
CSU’s Wes Eikmeier made a 3-pointer to tie it before the Aztecs regained the lead on JJ O’Brien’s tip-in.
Tapley then stole the ball went coast-to-coast for a layup and then made another 3-pointer for a 75-68 lead with 1:18 left.
Jamaal Franklin had 23 points, including five 3-pointers, and Xavier Thames 14 for SDSU.
Eikmeier had 22 points for CSU (13-3, 0-1), which had its seven-game winning streak snapped. Iverson had 18 points and 11 rebounds and Daniel Bejarano had 13 points and 11 boards.
“We need more toughness,” Eikmeier said. “On the road, you’re not going to get the calls. It’s not going to be easy. Players have to make plays at the end of the game. We have to have toughness to buckle down and make some plays to win a game. They did and we didn’t.
“We thought we had a good enough team to beat anyone on their floor,” he added. “At the end of the day, it’s just a loss and it’s hard to take.”
San Diego State led 59-46 after Tapley’s jumper with 7:43 left. That was the Aztecs’ last field goal in regulation.
Eikmeier made a layup with 6:42 left to start a 17-4 run that allowed the Rams to force overtime. He had nine points in the run, including a 3-pointer that pulled the Rams to 59-56 with 4:06 left.
Thames made two free throws for the Aztecs before Iverson made one of two for the Rams. Bejarano rebounded the miss and made a layup to make it 61-59.
Eikmeier made a long jumper to tie it at 61 with 1:38 to go and Thames made one of two free throws for a 62-61 lead. Iverson came up with a rebound but Eikmeier was whistled for traveling with 30.3 seconds left.
Franklin inbounded the ball off a Rams player and James Rahon was fouled by Dorian Green, making the first but missing the second. Green rebounded for the Rams and Iverson scored off a rebound to tie it at 63.
Franklin missed a 3-pointer at the buzzer.
San Diego State’s first nine baskets were 3-pointers and the Aztecs made 10 of 18 3-pointers in the first half. The Aztecs’ first two-pointer didn’t come until 3:47 left in the first half, when O’Brien made a jumper, was fouled and converted the three-point play for a 37-23 lead. That was part of a 9-0 run that carried the Aztecs to a 41-23 halftime lead.
Franklin was coming off a big game in the conference-opening win at Fresno State on Wednesday night, when he had 20 points, a career-high 18 rebounds and a highlight reel play when he threw the ball off the backboard during a fast break, caught it in midair and dunked between two Bulldogs defenders.
Of SDSU’s opening salvo of eight 3-pointers, Franklin had four, Thames three and Winston Shepard and Rahon one apiece.
Tapley made SDSU’s 10th 3-pointer of the half to begin the half-ending 9-0 run. That run ended when Franklin had a slam dunk off a nice bounce pass from Thames.
Thames returned after missing the Fresno State game with a back injury
The Rams went on a 17-4 run to open the second half and pull to 45-40. Greg Smith and Hornung each made a 3-pointer and Eikmeier had five points, including a three-point play.
SDSU scored the next seven points to run its lead to 52-40.
By BERNIE WILSON, AP Sports Writer
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