Logan • This one hurt.
Double overtime was on its way. Utah State had nearly run out of lives, but still had one more left.
But all that was flushed away as Brett Olson hurled up a 29-foot shot that sailed straight into the hoop.
All that Utah State (17-6, 8-5) had poured into its Thursday night home game against Denver (16-8, 12) had been reduced to a 63-60 defeat in overtime, the latest near-comeback at the Spectrum. And as the Aggies shook hands with the jubliant Pioneers, their brief three-game winning streak cut short, it took time to come to terms with what they had just seen.
"We played really good defense, I thought," said Spencer Butterfield, who had made a tying shot seconds earlier. "He just got a little bit of a look at it and made the opportunity count."
Utah State had been feeling pretty good just moments before, as Butterfield had knocked in the team's first 3-pointer of the night. After a bounce off the rim, the ball swooshed through the net.
Tied at 60.
But Olson, who led Denver with 17 points on the night, found the ball in his hands as the Pioneer's 15-second window was reduced to a sliver. He took a chance.
It was made more crushing by the opportunities the Aggies had missed themselves. The team was only 2 for 6 in overtime and just 13 for 21 from the free-throw line.
Down by one point with four seconds left in regulation, Jarred Shaw missed a pair of free throws one of his few weaknesses in an 18-point, nine-rebound performance. Marcel Davis went to the line again with 1.6 seconds, but managed only one shot to force overtime.
"Those are really hard games to lose," coach Stew Morrill said. "We battled hard and gave ourselves chances, but we couldn't get over the hump. If we had made a few free throws, then it is a different outcome."
Outside its shooting woes, Utah State put up a tough defensive front on Denver at least better than the previous meeting. The Aggies held them to 19 for 42 in regulation, twice forcing the Pioneers into running out the shot clock.
But Denver still managed to find cracks in the team's defense, hitting seven 3-pointers and getting a few fast-break points and open layups off pick-and-roll plays. Turnovers especially hurt Utah State, which ceded a 13-7 advantage to the Pioneers.
The Aggies responded with strength in the front court, getting an 8-for-12 shooting night from Shaw and a perfect 4-for-4 outing from Ben Clifford, who had a season-high 14 points. Utah State also had 17 more boards than Denver, one of the worst rebounding teams in the WAC.
But still, not enough. And a close defeat is no real consolation headed into a game with New Mexico State on Saturday.
"Nothing we can do now, game's over," Shaw said. "All we can do now is stay positive and get ready for New Mexico State."
Storylines Downed in OT
R Brett Olson makes a twisting 29-foot shot in overtime to win it.
• Jarred Shaw scores 18 points to lead all scorers on 8-for-12 shooting.
• Spencer Butterfield had 16 points, and Ben Clifford added 14.