LAS CRUCES, N.M. Reggie Larry scored 31 points and Boise State ended a 14-year NCAA drought, outlasting New Mexico State 107-102 for the Western Athletic Conference tournament title in a triple-overtime thriller Saturday night.
Matt Nelson added 26 points and Tyler Tiedeman had 17 to help the Broncos (25-8) return to the NCAAs for the first time since 1994, when they won the Big Sky tourney but lost to Louisville in the first round.
It was a real marathon, tied at 71 at the end of regulation, at 80 after the first overtime and at 92 after two OTs.
But Boise State finally built up enough cushion, with Larry scoring twice in a 6-0 burst to start the third and final overtime.
Anthony Thomas provided the insurance, slashing for a layup and foul that he turned into a three-point play and 102-97 lead with 42.6 seconds to go. Seconds later, he forced NMSU's Jonathan Gibson into a backcourt violation.
Freshman Herb Pope led the Aggies (21-14) with 20 points, playing through foul trouble since picking up his third late in the first half.
Justin Hawkins had 18 and Fred Peete scored 13 of his 17 points in the second half as New Mexico State erased a 16-point deficit.
Matt Bauscher scored 14 points and Thomas added 13. The Broncos survived in a hostile environment driven by noisy and passionate New Mexico State fans, then cut down the nets in a largely vacant arena.
At the final horn, Bauscher threw the ball into the rafters and several of his teammates jumped atop a courtside table to cheer with a contingent of fans in orange and blue.
Larry added 16 rebounds and was named tournament MVP, capping a three-day run where he scored 26 points in a win over Hawaii and 23 as the fourth-seeded Broncos beat No. 1 Utah State.
Peete was fabulous as the Aggies stormed from behind. They outscoring the Broncos 35-19 after Bauscher's 3-pointer put Boise State into a seemingly safe 52-36 lead with 13:47 remaining.
New Mexico State chipped away, though, getting big baskets from Pope, Hawkins, Peete and especially Gibson, who put New Mexico State ahead 71-70 with a huge 3-pointer with 24 seconds to play in regulation.
It was pandemonium at the Pan American Center.
Shortly after an airball on a free throw, Larry tied it at 71, making one of two free throws to tie it with 16.8 seconds to play. It went to overtime when Peete missed a runner in the lane as regulation time expired.
The Aggies came into the tournament on a tear, winning five straight and 10 of 11 down the stretch. They were hoping to repeat a title after winning the tournament on their homecourt to reach the NCAAs for the first time since 1999.
But the WAC, with a No. 20 national conference RPI, is likely to send only the tournament champion to the NCAA tourney.