Bubble burster: Boise State suffers worst loss of the season at Fresno State

STATESMAN STAFFFebruary 27, 2014 

Boise State guard Derrick Marks argues a call during the second half of the Broncos’ loss Wednesday night in Fresno, Calif.

GARY KAZANJIAN — The Associated Press

After so many losses as the result of a poor finish, it was a dreadful start that did in the Boise State men’s basketball team Wednesday in Fresno, Calif.

The Broncos made their first field goal, missed the next eight, and never got within 10 points in a 76-56 loss.

In all likelihood, it means Boise State will need to win the Mountain West Tournament in two weeks if it wishes to return to the NCAA Tournament for a second straight season.

“The way we started, we just dug ourselves in an impossible hole,’’ Boise State coach Leon Rice said on the postgame show on KBOI 670 AM.

For a team that was harboring slim at-large hopes, the Broncos (18-10, 8-7) had their worst game of the season come at a very bad time, as the calendar goes into March.

Fresno State (15-14, 8-8) was 18-of-32 from the field (56.3 percent) in the first half, taking a 46-25 halftime lead. The 21-point deficit is the largest at any point this season for the Broncos.

“It’s never acceptable, the way we played tonight, the way we came out in the first half,’’ Rice said.

The Broncos helped the Bulldogs’ cause with 12 turnovers, while Fresno State had only four and outscored Boise State 21-2 off turnovers.

One of the better shooting teams in the Mountain West, Boise State made 2-of-18 from 3-point range, its fewest this season and worst outside shooting percentage since Dec. 12, 2010. Until junior Derrick Marks hit a layup with 9 minutes, 25 seconds to play, only three Broncos had a field goal. Marks made another 41 seconds later to cut the lead to 63-50, but the Broncos had just six points the rest of the way.

“You can’t overcome that if you’re not making shots,’’ Rice said.

Sophomore Mikey Thompson was one of the lone bright spots with a career-high 21 points, while senior Thomas Bropleh continued his strong bench play with 14 points and five rebounds. Senior Ryan Watkins had 12 points (eight in the second half), and freshman Nick Duncan had 11 rebounds.

Thompson, Bropleh and Watkins combined to shoot 16-of-27. The rest of the team was 3-of-23, including Marks (2-of-7, four points) and junior Anthony Drmic (0-for-4, two points), who were benched the first few minutes of the second half. Drmic left with 11:32 to play with a possible ankle sprain.

Marvelle Harris had 26 points on 9-of-11 shooting for Fresno State, and Tyler Johnson added 15 points, seven rebounds and six assists.

The Broncos play at Wyoming on Saturday (4:05 p.m., CBSSN).

"Our two leading scorers, Anthony and Derrick, they go 2-for-11, and their two leading scorers go for 41, that's the tale of the tape right there," Rice said.

The Broncos again will head onto the road Saturday at Wyoming (4 p.m., CBSSN). They'll hope to avoid a repeat of last season's back-to-back conference road trip, when they lost by 16 at Nevada and 20 at Colorado State.

"We've got to be mentally tough enough to bounce back," Rice said. "… I know they'll bounce back, I know they'll be ready to go and we'll have an edge to us Saturday than the approach we had tonight."

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