College basketball • Missed free throws come back to bite USU.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
Logan • Call it fate, fortune, karma, clutch it has many names.
Stew Morrill felt Brett Olson's miracle shot to defeat Utah State is fairly in line with how things have gone for Denver during the Western Athletic Conference slate.
"That is a good basketball team, and they are having a heck of a year," Morrill said. "The shot at the end of the game was conducive to the kind of the year they've been having. They just do what they have to and find a way to win."
On Utah State's side, it's easy to uncover excuses: no depth, key injuries, no seniors.
That's not what the Aggies will see when they watch the tape of their 63-60 overtime loss to Denver. They'll see a team that was given all the opportunities it takes to win a game, but didn't seize them.
In fact, no one needed to look at film. The Aggies knew it already.
"If we do the little things get some free throws, block out and get a few more rebounds we win the game," Jarred Shaw said. "Some nights you make 'em, sometimes you don't."
It was pretty clear from the beginning what kind of night Utah State was having. Shaw was only 2 for 6 from the free-throw line, and the team was 13 for 21. The Aggies missed six shots in the second half around the basket. They missed two layups near the end of overtime.
Aggies fans will point to referee Kipp Kissinger as a heel in this one. He had a hot whistle throughout the game, and made a key call with four seconds left in regulation: He called off a putback that Shaw had made, saying he had been fouled before the shot.
The call was questionable, but Utah State could have made it moot. Shaw missed a pair of charity-stripe shots. Marcel Davis rebounded the ball and was fouled with 1.6 seconds left, and he missed his first.
If any one of them had gone in, the Aggies would've likely been celebrating with the 6,978 fans who shunned other Valentine's Day plans to watch their resurgent team.
In the end, the game was not about a 30-footer. It was about the chances that Utah State had to decide the result beforehand.
Everyone's heart was broken. And the Aggies will be kicking themselves about this one for a while.