© 2013 Idaho Statesman
FORT COLLINS, Colo. Trailing big early in the second half, Boise State center Ryan Watkins corralled a rebound, a small victory itself against the nations top rebounding team.
Against no Colorado State pressure, Watkins passed it to teammate Igor Hadziomerovic. But Thomas Bropleh, thinking it was intended for him, reached back and tipped the ball. It went off Hadziomerovic and out of bounds. Seconds later, Colorado State scored on a lay-up.
It was that kind of evening for the Boise State mens basketball team Wednesday.
Colorado State crushed the Broncos 77-57 to extend its home winning streak to 25 games, the fourth-best active streak in the country. Boise State (14-6, 2-4 in the Mountain West) dropped its fourth game in five outings, putting a damper on its hot start to the season.
The first thing weve got to do is try to get our guys back healthy, together and then get our confidence back, coach Leon Rice said.
Boise State played without guard and team leader Jeff Elorriaga (concussion) for the third time in four games. Leading scorer Derrick Marks (flu) played just nine minutes, none in the second half.
Undermanned, the Broncos were then overmatched by the Rams (17-4, 4-2 in the Mountain West) and senior Pierce Hornung in particular. The 6-foot-5 Hornung, the leagues leading rebounder, had 23 points and 13 rebounds (five offensive) in 29 minutes.
Boise State played several zone defenses, designed to help on the boards against Hornung and 6-10 center Colton Iverson, the No. 2 rebounder in the Mountain West.
The defensive changes didnt work. Colorado State, No. 1 in the country in rebounding margin, had 14 offensive rebounds in the game. Boise State big men Kenny Buckner and Ryan Watkins each picked up three first-half fouls.
Its his effort and his skill at rebounding, Rice said of Hornung. Hes got world-class effort on the boards. Hes really, really, really strong and hes got a nose for the ball. That kid is one of the best, if not the best, in college basketball right now.
The Rams were quicker to rebounds all night, especially on loose balls off the rim.
Coaches said it was going to take third and fourth effort and we only went the first two efforts, said Boise State guard Mikey Thompson, who led the Broncos with 13 points.
Colorado State scored the games first eight points. And when Boise State closed the deficit to 19-18 on a Thompson lay-up with eight minutes, 19 seconds left in the first half, the Rams went on a 14-2 run to close the half. Boise State, which never led, did not made another field goal in the first half.
Thats the best weve played all year, Colorado State coach Larry Eustachy said. I thought we played our best for long periods of time in the areas like defense and rebounding.
Senior guard Dorian Green provided the exclamation point with an emphatic slam with 4:33 remaining that brought the crowd of 6,059 to its feet one more time.
I dont know where that came from. I think I surprised a lot of people with that one, said the 6-foot-2 Green.
And it could have been worse for Boise State. The Rams were just 19-of-35 from the free-throw line.
On the heels of a season-worst 36.1 percent shooting performance at Nevada, the Broncos shot just 37.7 percent from the field their second-worst performance of the year. Boise State shot a season-low 18.8 percent from 3-point range, making just three of 19 attempts. The Broncos have scored 59 and 57 points in the last two games, well below their season average of 76.7.
The confidence that Boise State played with throughout its 13-2 start is gone. The Broncos have not had a full roster since conference play started with suspensions, injuries and illness costing players time. Their shooting percentage has plummeted and scoring way down.
Weve just got to have everybody come back healthy and do what we can do, Thompson said. Rebounding and pushing the ball and sticking to the game plan like we did at the beginning of the season.
Elorriaga and Marks are expected back for Saturdays home game against UNLV.
We knew this was going to be a tough stretch four out of six on the road. We didnt count on being down so many guys so many different ways for so many games, Rice said. You look back to some of our earlier games, when we were playing really confident. When you have your guys out there, that really helps a lot.
Brian Murphy: 377-6444