The Boise State men's basketball will need some help to get a bye in next week's Mountain West Tournament after a 64-61 overtime loss to Air Force on Saturday.
Boise State (19-12, 9-9) will be the sixth seed in next week's tournament, opening play Wednesday against 11th-seeded San Jose State. If the Broncos want to win the conference tournament, they will need to win four games in four days. The path is tough, but with a win, Boise State will face third-seeded Nevada, which the Broncos lost to in double overtime Wednesday but beat on the road in January.
The Broncos shot just 35.3 percent from the field in the loss to the Falcons (12-17, 6-12), and were 16-of-27 on free throws (59.3 percent). Jeff Elorriaga led the Broncos with 15 points, all on 3-pointers. Down 59-58 with 1:22 left in overtime, junior Igor Hadziomerovic missed both free throws. The Broncos missed four straight free throws to end regulation in an 83-81 double overtime loss to Nevada on Wednesday. The Broncos came into this week ranked 13th in the nation in free-throw percentage (75.7).
"There are two things that can't last dogs that chase cars and teams who can't shoot free throws," Rice said in his postgame interview on KBOI 670 AM.
After trailing by as much as nine in the first half, the Broncos got their first lead since the game's first basket on an Elorriaga 3-pointer with 13 minutes left that made it 38-37. The Broncos got down by six with 4:27 left, but took a 55-53 lead with 52 seconds left on a pair of Anthony Drmic free throws. Air Force's Max Yon hit two freebies with 42 seconds left to tie it, eventually forcing overtime. In the extra frame, the Broncos took seven shots, all 3-pointers, and made two. Air Force made its last four field goals in overtime, including a Yon steal and layup with 22 seconds left. He was fouled, made the free throw and it put the Falcons up 64-58.
"I'm going back to the drawing board as far as who I'm playing, trying to figure this out," Rice said. "I know we're banged up I think sometimes when it is what it is, you've got to play through those injuries. The hard thing is we haven't been able to practice through those enough, but now it's time. It's the end of the year. I'm going to figure out who is going to have confidence enough to go down and compete in the conference tournament and who is going to let it rip in down there that's who we're taking down to the tournament. If everybody doesn't want to do that or if everybody's not going to compete and play confident the way we can play, then they shouldn't go on the tournament trip with us. It may seem little bit harsh, but I take a lot of pride in our team's competing, and part of competing is being able to step up and make an unguarded shot from 15 feet."
Boise State senior Ryan Watkins had 10 points and 12 rebounds. His 12.5 rebounds per game in Mountain West play tied the conference record.