San Jose State 76, Utah State 75 (OT)
Mar. 10, 1996
RENO, Nev. (AP) _ Rich Taylor hit a 3-pointer with five seconds left in overtime, his only basket of the day, and San Jose State capped a longshot run by beating Utah State 76-75 Sunday to win the Big West tournament championship and a NCAA berth.
Taylor had missed all four previous shots before draining the game-winner that sent San Jose to the NCAA tournament for the first time since 1980, when the Spartans won their only other Big West title game.
Taylor thrust his arms up and an instant later was mobbed by his teammates and fans who streamed onto the court.
The Spartans (13-16) were 4-15 at one time but have won nine of their last 10. They join Central Florida as the only teams in the NCAA tournament with losing records.
Olivier Saint-Jean led San Jose State with 27 points, all scored after halftime. He sat out most of the first half after picking up two fouls in the first two minutes. Tito Addison added 11 points.
Silas Mills had 23 points for Utah State (18-15). Eric Franson added 16 and Justin Jones had 11, including a two free throws with four seconds left in regulation to force the overtime.
Jones also had a 3-pointer with 1:46 in overtime to give Utah State a 72-71 lead. Saint-Jean answered with a turnaround jumper and then Franson had a go-ahead layup for the Aggies.
After Taylor missed his fourth shot from the field, Duane Rogers made one of two free throws for a 75-73 lead with 26 seconds remaining.
San Jose State worked the ball around and found Taylor open for the game-winner. During the regular season, Taylor had tried just two 3-pointers and made one.
San Jose State opened a 57-50 lead after Saint-Jean hit a baseline jumper but the Aggies ran off nine straight points, tying it on a 3-pointer by Jon Wickizer and going in front 59-57 when Mills hit a pair of free throws with 5:16 left.
Jahi Bacon's back-to-back 3-pointers put San Jose State in front 34-29 with 2:10 left in the first half. Utah State came back to tie it, scoring the last five points. Mills scored four of his 13 first-half points during the closing burst.