Boise State men's basketball closes out road win, snaps losing streak

Boise State ends its two-game skid with a critical victory against the Mountain West-leading Wolf Pack.

dsouthorn@idahostatesman.comJanuary 15, 2014 

— In “The Biggest Little City in The World,” Boise State earned perhaps its biggest win of the year.

Unable to close out games in recent weeks, the Broncos turned a tie game with a little more than 10 minutes to play into a 74-65 win over Nevada on Tuesday, handing the Wolf Pack their first Mountain West loss.

Boise State ended a two-game losing streak with Tuesday’s win, the Broncos’ second victory in their past five games. The three defeats came by a combined nine points.

“I can’t say how proud I am of the guys taking responsibility, not hanging their heads,” Boise State coach Leon Rice said. “When you get knocked down, you gotta get up. In this league, the team that does that best is going to win it.

“This game certainly helped us get our mojo back a bit.”

With a balanced scoring attack and a stout defense, Boise State (12-5, 2-2) earned the team’s fourth Mountain West road win since joining the conference in 2011-12 and 10th win at Nevada (9-9, 4-1) in 32 trips.

Four Broncos scored in double digits. Junior Derrick Marks led the way with 21 points, eight rebounds and five assists, while junior Anthony Drmic added 17 points, his 13th game with double-digit scoring this season. Senior Ryan Watkins had his sixth double-double of the season with 11 points and 11 rebounds, and freshman Nick Duncan had 10 points, his first-double digit game since Nov. 15 against Simpson.

“We’re at our best when we’re having contributions from a lot of guys, moving the ball around,” Drmic said. “That’s something we focused on in practice, and it showed.”

It also was one of the Broncos’ better defensive efforts. They held Nevada to 34.5 percent shooting (19-of-55), including 6-of-25 on 3-pointers, and had a 41-31 rebounding edge. Deonte Burton, who came into the game leading the Mountain West with 21.8 points per game, had just seven points on 1-of-8 shooting. It was his lowest output since scoring six on Dec. 28, 2012.

“He’s a tremendous player, and I think our guys did a really good job, being attentive of where he was, how to guard him,” Rice said.

The Broncos rocketed out of an early hole, scoring 15 straight points after falling behind 7-0 in the first 4 minutes. Twice in the first half, the Broncos held the Wolf Pack without a field goal for 5 minutes or more, taking a 30-23 halftime lead.

Nevada shot just 25 percent in the first half on 6-of-24 shooting, including 1-of-9 3-pointers.

“We needed to change something this week, and that was mostly defense,” Drmic said. “We came out, played for each other, helped each other, and played maybe our best defense of the year.”

The Wolf Pack battled back on their home floor, scoring 12 straight points spanning the end of the first half and first 2 minutes of the second half to take a 31-30 lead. However, Drmic responded with a 3-pointer, and Nevada was only able to tie it thrice more, the last at 42-42 with 10:40 to go. Boise State stepped on the gas and stayed on it after being tested, scoring 21 of the next 28 points, including a Jeff Elorriaga 3 with 3:53 to play, his first points in 110 minutes on the court.

“We definitely needed this game,” Marks said. “We came out a little slow at the beginning of the second half, but when it was time, we came together, got some stops and created a gap.”

A road win to get to .500 in conference against a red-hot team to end a two-game losing streak had the Broncos all smiles afterward, but a new challenge is always ahead — trying to get a streak going the other way, starting Saturday at home against Utah State.

“That was more like Bronco basketball,” Marks said. “Now we’ve got to build on it.”

Dave Southorn: 377-6420, Twitter: @IDS_Southorn

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