March 20, 2003
SAN DIEGO (AP) - Tommy Johnson hit a 3-pointer with 1:14 left to put San Diego State ahead for good in a 67-62 overtime win over UC Santa Barbara Wednesday night in the first round of the NIT.
The Aztecs (16-13) won for the first time in a Division I postseason game. San Diego State had lost their first five games, including a 93-64 first-round loss to Illinois in last year's NCAA Tournament.
Johnson hit his 3-pointer out of the right corner to give the Aztecs a 63-60 lead after they trailed by six points.
Mark Hull put UC Santa Barbara (18-14) ahead by scoring the first six points in overtime on a 3-point play and a 3-pointer to give the Gauchos a 60-54 lead with 3:03 left.
Mike Mackell then scored six straight points in 45 seconds to tie the score.
San Diego State's Tony Bland forced overtime when he hit a running 10-footer with 1.9 seconds left to tie the game at 54-54. Bland then stole Hull's inbound pass and missed from 23 feet out as his shot hit off the rim at the buzzer.
Bland scored 17 points to lead San Diego State and Evan Burns added 12 points.
Hull finished with 28 points, hitting 5-of-9 3-pointers for the Gauchos, the Big West regular season champs, who are 0-4 in NIT games.
San Diego State will play at Texas Tech on Friday night in a second-round NIT game.