Brett Olson hit the game-winner as the clock expired to give Denver a win it needed to keep pace with Louisiana Tech in the WAC. But Utah State let it slip away in overtime at the free throw line. So what story line win?
Just inches away from the sideline, at least five feet behind the arc, and with nothing left on the clock in overtime, Olson broke the hearts of many a Utah State fan on Valentine's Day when he swished a three.
The Pioneers walked away with a 63-60 win over the Aggies and stayed in the hunt for the regular season WAC title (and the all-important NIT berth) with the win. The swish erased the magic that was Spencer Butterfield's shot just seconds earlier, one that could have kept the Aggies playing. It just wasn't enough magic Thursday.
Then again, this game should have never seen an extra five minutes on the clock. With seconds left, Utah State's Jarred Shaw was sent to the free throw line and looked like he attempted to miss his free throw.
The rebound was corralled by Marcel Davis, who used his speed to run from outside the arc and into the paint for the unlikely rebound. He was fouled as he threw up a very awkward attempt.
Now Davis had the chance to tie and potentially win the game. The Denver players walked away from the call with their hands on their heads.
Only this is what happened on the first shot: miss.
The best Davis could do was tie, and he did just that, sinking the second of the two charity tosses. Oh what could have been. Yet, no one should have expected any different. Both teams were horrid when given chances with the clock stopped to tie, or even take the lead.
Neither team was about 65 percent in regulation at the free throw line. This was a case of being your own undoing, no matter who walked away with the win.
And so Olson becomes the hero for Denver. His 17 points, on 7 of 11 shooting, led the Pioneers in a balanced scoring effort. The dagger shot will overplay the understated night of Chris Udofia. He had just 10 points, but missed just a single shot and had five boards and five assists in the win.
Denver plain deserved this one more given how they played on offense. They let the defense get in the way during the final minutes, but they deserved the win.
So breathe easy Pioneer fans. The conference title is still in reach. You can still hope to have the soft cushion of the NIT behind you. But keep in mind that giving chances at the end of games is not the way to win in March.
Louisiana Tech will not let you get away with that. Lucky for you, the Aggies were that bad at the charity stripe.
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