It took most of a half, but the Boise State mens basketball teams offseason focus on defense paid early dividends Friday night at Taco Bell Arena.
In their lone exhibition before next Friday nights regular-season opener, the Broncos were tested early by Lewis-Clark State before shutting down the hot-shooting NAIA squad from Lewiston 80-52.
The Warriors, who had averaged 104.8 points per game in four games coming into Friday, trailed 27-25 after 15 minutes, making 10-of-23 field goals. They only made 11 of their final 35.
They were coming in hot, and they came out hot we just had to buckle down in the second half, Boise State forward Ryan Watkins said.
Boise State turned 17 turnovers into 25 points and played defense with the right amount of aggression, committing only 11 fouls in the game, resulting in only nine free throw attempts for the Warriors.
This was good for our first night Im really glad we played that team, because that team can really score it, if you made a mistake, they made you pay, Boise State coach Leon Rice said. I think it went the way we needed it to go.
The Broncos played all 14 players who suited up, with 12 scoring, led by Watkins 15 points. The senior made his first six shots, finishing 7-of-9 with seven rebounds in 22 minutes.
I was feeling good, Watkins said.
After Watkins had his first miss, junior guard Derrick Marks scored the Broncos next five points to keep them on top, 21-18, with 9:36 until halftime. After scoring two points in the first half, junior guard Igor Hadziomerovic had 11 points in a span of 7:42, helping stretch a 12-point lead to 26 midway through the second half.
One of the best things about this team is the way they can identify who has the hot hand a little bit, and they go to him, Rice said.
Fridays exhibition also gave the Broncos a chance to trot out some new faces.
True freshmen Dezmyn Trent and Nick Duncan, junior college transfer James Webb III and sophomore Edmunds Dukulis all made their debuts. Duncan, who was slightly hobbled by a sprained ankle, had eight points, making a pair of 3-pointers, and had five rebounds in 13 minutes.
He can stroke it, hes always stretching the floor, which is good for us, because thats what we like to do, said Hadziomerovic, a fellow Australian.
Before facing UT Arlington in next Fridays opener, Rice said the Broncos have plenty to digest from their contest against the Warriors, including a tough defensive effort for all 40 minutes. There also is the fact the typically strong-shooting Broncos were 5-of-26 on 3-pointers (19.2 percent), which would qualify as the teams third-worst last season.
Its nice to score 80 points and not shoot the ball well like I know we can, Rice said.
Dave Southorn: 377-6420