Boise State drops another Mountain West game

Broncos lose second straight in final seconds, falling to Wyoming.

dsouthorn@idahostatesman.comJanuary 12, 2014 

Heartbreak came twice in a week for the Boise State Broncos.

Three days after missing a shot in the final seconds of a loss at No. 13 San Diego State, the Broncos were on the wrong end of a thrilling finish again Saturday.

Wyoming’s Larry Nance Jr. hit a baseline jumper with 1.6 seconds left to give the Cowboys a 52-50 win over the Broncos at Taco Bell Arena.

A year and two days before Nance’s shot, Boise State’s Jeff Elorriaga hit a 3-pointer at the buzzer in Laramie, Wyo., to beat the Cowboys 63-61.

“Last year, we stole one on them at their place, and they gave it right back to us this year, stole one on us,” Boise State coach Leon Rice said.

Boise State (11-5, 1-2 MW) fell to 0-18 when scoring fewer than 60 points under Rice. The Broncos’ 50 points Saturday were their fewest this season, and tied for the fourth-fewest in their past 113 games.

The Cowboys (10-6, 1-2) came into the game yielding the second-fewest points per game in the Mountain West, and held the Broncos to 32 percent shooting (16-of-50), including 3-of-17 on 3-pointers.

With 9:49 to play, Boise State’s Anthony Drmic, who had a game-high 20 points, hit a layup to lead 44-37. The Broncos got one field goal the rest of the way, a Thomas Bropleh putback off an airballed 3-pointer with 1:01 left. During the field goal drought, the Broncos made 4-of-9 free throws.

“We weren’t hitting our 3s, weren’t shooting well, we were a bit slow on offense,” Boise State freshman Nick Duncan said.

Bropleh’s basket put the Broncos up 50-48, but Jerron Granberry scored on the other end six seconds later for Wyoming. Drmic attempted a layup with 22 seconds to go, but it was short. Nance, who had 16 points and 10 rebounds, hit the jumper with Duncan guarding for the win. It was the first time Wyoming was ahead since 12 seconds into the second half.

“We were in good position going away, then we just stopped making the ball go through the hole, and didn’t get stops,” Rice said.

Boise State had only four players score until 5:52 remained on a Duncan free throw. Sophomore Mikey Thompson, who entered the game averaging 9.3 points per game off the bench, did not play with a bruised right knee.

“One of the things that hurt us was our short bench,” Rice said. “I played Drmic 40 and Jeff 40 … because Mikey was not able to go.

“He gives us a big offensive spark off the bench. He’s worth 8-14 points almost every night.”

Wyoming’s defensive-minded system and slow-it-down tempo frustrated the Broncos most of the night. Boise State created 17 turnovers, but did not manage any fast-break points and had 11 offensive rebounds to the Cowboys’ one. Still, the Broncos had just 23 points in the first half, and could do little to establish much offense in the second half.

“We came out a little bit sluggish, a lot sluggish, actually — we weren’t making shots we normally make,” said Boise State senior Ryan Watkins, who had 15 points and nine rebounds.

Of Boise State’s five losses, four have come with the Broncos within three points in the final 30 seconds. In a conference where games come down to the final minute so often, the Broncos hope the final 15 games of league play will see more of those thrillers go their way.

“Every team goes through a tough stretch — we’re going through one right now,” Rice said. “It’s two possessions away from being a great stretch.”

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