Boise State men's basketball regular season ends with a dud

Broncos finish .500 in Mountain West play after OT loss at Air Force


One of the Boise State basketball team’s biggest strengths failed it for the second straight game in a 64-61 overtime loss at Air Force on Saturday. The Broncos closed out the regular season with back-to-back losses.

The Broncos, who came into the week 13th in the nation in free-throw percentage, made 16-of-27 — three days after missing four straight in regulation of an 83-81 double-overtime loss against Nevada.

“There are two things that don’t last — dogs that chase cars and teams that can’t shoot free throws,” Boise State coach Leon Rice said on his postgame radio show on KBOI 670 AM. “Right now, we’re acting like we can’t make a free throw.”

Boise State (19-12, 9-9 Mountain West) trailed the Falcons (12-17, 6-12) by as many as nine early, the fourth straight game they have trailed by that much or more during the first half. They shot 5-of-11 on free throws in the first 20 minutes.

As they have so often after trailing big early, the Broncos battled back, leading for the first time since the game’s first basket on a Jeff Elorriaga 3-pointer with 13 minutes left that made it 38-37. Anthony Drmic hit a pair of free throws with 52 seconds left to give Boise State a 55-53 lead, but Air Force’s Max Yon tied it with two of his own with 42 seconds left, the last scores of regulation.

In overtime, Kamryn Williams’ dunk made it 59-58 with 2:18 to go and put the Falcons ahead for good. The Broncos’ Igor Hadziomerovic missed two free throws with 1:22 to play. Yon had the Falcons’ last five points.

“You can say we’re a tough team, you can say we battled every game and we’re in every game and all that, but you’ve got to be a competitor at the free-throw line,” Rice said. “You can’t start doubting yourself. We missed 11 free throws, but three front ends (of one-and-ones). We left 14 points on the board, and we’re capable of making those.”

Boise State shot 35.3 percent in the game, including 28.1 percent from 3-point range (9-of-32). Air Force held a 40-32 rebounding edge, just the fifth time in conference play the Broncos were outrebounded.

“We’ve been a great rebounding team, and you take away a couple of those rebounds, make your free throws and you win this game in the right way,” Rice said.

Elorriaga led the Broncos with 15 points, all on 3-pointers. The loss sent the team, and Rice, searching for answers. Second-leading scorer Derrick Marks did not start for the first time this season, and did not play in the second half after scoring two points and missing both first-half free-throw attempts.

“I’m going back to the drawing board as far as who I’m playing, trying to figure this out,” Rice said. “… 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 down there — that’s who we’re taking down to the tournament.”

The Mountain West Tournament starts this week in Las Vegas.

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