It wasn’t always pretty, but Boise State got its groove back.
Despite not making a field goal for nearly 12 minutes in the second half Saturday against San Jose State, the Broncos defeated the Spartans 75-65 to snap a two-game losing streak.
Redshirt sophomore David Wacker scored a career-high 17 points in the win. The Broncos outrebounded San Jose State 33-23 and never trailed.
Boise State’s win, combined with Nevada’s loss to Fresno State, puts the Broncos and Wolf Pack in a tie for first place in the Mountain West.
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San Jose State forward Brandon Clarke scored 22 points, though just eight of those came after halftime.
“Great road win. (We) came here and got it done. That’s our third conference win on the road,” Boise State head coach Leon Rice said. “Our guys had a good approach. They came out ready to play. They got after it.”
In losses to Fresno State and New Mexico, Boise State (12-6, 5-2 MW) dug itself into early holes and was unable to climb out. The opposite was the case against San Jose State. The Broncos shot 59.3 percent from the field in the first half and took a 43-30 lead into halftime.
BSU shot 35 free throws as a team and pressed the issue on both sides of the ball from start to finish. Boise State made 17 free throws during its second-half shooting drought. Wacker’s dunk with 20 seconds remaining ended the Bronco’s missed field goal streak.
The Spartans (9-9, 2-5) shot 41.2 percent from the field and made one 3-pointer.
“That was key. We kind of got our mojo back defensively,” Rice said. “That led to the some good offensive possessions.”
Wacker scored 10 of his 17 points in the first half and also finished with seven rebounds.
“David does mean a lot to this team. He just does a great job for us,” Rice said. “He knows where to be, (and) he has a great attack mentality.”
Clarke was 8-of-11 from the field in the first half but attempted just three field goals after halftime. Because San Jose State can be deadly from behind the 3-point line, part of the game plan for Boise State was to heavily guard the perimeter. The Spartans entered the game shooting 34.2 percent from 3-point range.
With their defense stacked on the wings, the Broncos accepted Clarke getting his points inside. The Spartans outscored Boise State 34-32 in the paint.
“They can really, really get going form the 3-point line. We had to do a good job on that,” Rice said. “When you’re extended out on that, you have to give something (up).”
Junior Chandler Hutchison finished with 15 points for the Broncos, while redshirt senior James Reid and freshman Alex Hobbs added 10 and seven points, respectively.
Boise State hosts Nevada at 8 p.m. Wednesday at Taco Bell Arena with sole possession of first place in the Mountain West on the line.
In what is likely the biggest remaining home game of the year, Rice knows a solid turnout of fans can help his team’s energy.
“We need a big, big crowd on Wednesday,” Rice said.