LAS CRUCES, N.M. Matt Bauscher was locked in on both ends of the court, and Boise State was solid because of it.
Bauscher and Reggie Larry each scored 23 points and Aaron Garner came off the bench for a career-high 14 as fourth-seeded Boise State beat the Aggies 88-78 on Friday night in the WAC semifinals.
Tyler Tiedeman also had 14 for the Broncos (24-8), who did a defensive number on Utah State's Jaycee Carroll, the WAC's leading scorer with a 22.7 average.
"It wasn't a single effort by any means," Bauscher said. "It was definitely a total team effort."
The sharp-shooting Carroll, the league's player of the year, finished with 20 points but went scoreless over a 21-minute span that began in the first half. He was 7-of-17 from the floor and 6-for-12 from 3-point range.
Bauscher, meanwhile, made 8-of-10 from the field, including a 5-for-6 effort from 3-point range. Maybe it's no coincidence that Carroll blamed his own offensive woes on his defensive performance.
"I did a poor job," Carroll said. "I was on Bauscher and he only missed one 3-point shot, so that was on my mind. I know I'll get shots, and I know my team will get shots. I was hurting my team by not playing defense."
Carroll played respectably, no question, but as the league's top player he never found an offensive rhythm that could have doomed Boise State, and Broncos coach Greg Graham credited his senior guard.
"Matt played both ends," Graham said. "Most people, when they defend Jaycee Carroll, they probably don't score, but Bauscher added 23 points for us. That's a hell of an effort."
Carroll made it interesting, though, hitting two late 3-pointers to pull the Aggies (24-10) to 79-71 with 1:49 remaining. Kris Clark added another 3-pointer to get Utah State within 83-76 with 1:11 to go.
Larry and Tiedeman steadied the Broncos, combining to make 5-of-6 free throws to control things down the stretch.
Stephen DuCharme scored 17 for Utah State, which had its six-game winning streak end. Tyler Newbold scored 16 and Gary Wilkinson had 12.
Boise State also gained a measure of revenge. The Broncos lost their season finale at home to Utah State, missing out on the WAC's outright title.
"The game tonight was the opposite of our game last week," Graham said. "In the last game we played, they played with a greater sense of urgency. I think that was the key to the game tonight. We set the tone early."
Utah State shared the WAC championship in a first-ever four-way tie, along with Boise State, Nevada and New Mexico State. Utah State earned the tournament's top seed with a 4-2 record against the others.
Bauscher, who missed tying a career-high by one point, swished consecutive 3-pointers to cap a 14-4 run late in the first half for a 40-35 lead.
The Broncos led 42-37 at the break and 47-37 shortly into the second half after a basket by Anthony Thomas and another 3-pointer by Bauscher. Garner got involved, too, scoring 11 straight during a burst late in the first half.
"When I'm in there, I'm doing everything I can," Garner said. "It's just great to be on the floor."
Then after DuCharme trimmed the margin to 49-41, Matt Nelson had six points during an 8-2 spurt that opened Boise State's lead to 57-43 with 15:50 to go, forcing Utah State coach Stew Morrill to call timeout.
It didn't help. The Broncos had control most of the night, and the lead grew as large as 69-52 when Larry made a 3-pointer with 9:53 remaining.
"We simply got outplayed tonight," Morrill said. "They were aggressive and made their shots. They got a lot of open looks, and they're a team that scores a lot of points."