For the second time this season, the Boise State men’s basketball team found itself in a second half double-digit hole against New Mexico.
For the second time this season, the Broncos dug themselves out of that hole and made a game out of what appeared to be a blowout Lobos win
And, for the second time this season, that late Boise State rally didn’t end up being enough.
A James Reid 3-pointer trimmed a 17-point second-half deficit against New Mexico down to three with 19 seconds remaining Tuesday night at WisePies Arena. Reid’s shot was not enough to overcome the late heroics of Elijah Brown, who scored 17 points in the final six minutes to lead the Lobos past the Broncos 78-73.
New Mexico also withstood a late Boise State rally in a Jan. 17 matchup en route to an 81-70 win at Taco Bell Arena.
Tuesday’s loss snaps Boise State’s overall four-game winning streak and three-game win streak on the road. With Colorado State’s victory over Wyoming on Tuesday, Boise State (16-8, 9-4) now sits a half-game behind the Rams (18-9, 10-4) in the Mountain West standings.
“I’m proud of our guys. We have a lot of fight in us,” Boise State head coach Leon Rice said. “We have to make some shots. When we look at the film, I bet we’ll see that’s pretty much it.”
Junior Chandler Hutchison scored a career-high 31 points, including 10 in the final 1:15, and was dominant in spurts at the end of both halves. Outside of him, however, no Bronco made more than six field goals as Boise State shot 39.7 percent from the field overall.
The Broncos were also outrebounded 36-34 and had nine shots blocked.
“It’s always tough when we get down in that hole. It seems like we get in those holes because we’re just not making shots,” Hutchison said. “It’s frustrating.”
As was the case in a January loss at Fresno State and the first matchup against the Lobos, Boise State fell into an early deficit. The Broncos trailed 35-25 at halftime after going 1-for-9 from behind the 3-point line and shooting a single free throw. Mistakes and missed opportunities were the story of the first half despite 14 points from Hutchison, as the Broncos committed nine turnovers that led to 10 New Mexico points.
“We have talented players who are capable of making shots,” Hutchison said. “We held them to 35 points in the first half ... (but) you do that, you hold them to their goal, and you can’t really get shots falling.”
With 1:15 remaining in the second half and his team trailing by 11, Hutchison scored 10 points in a 46 second span that brought the Broncos to within six points. Reid’s 3-pointer with 19 seconds remaining then made it a 3-point game.
“We made shots. It was pretty funny because there were a couple of things that didn’t go right. The ball would bounce, we’d throw up a three, and it would go in,” Hutchison said. “At the end, we’re kind of in desperation mode. But we just wanted to stick with it.”
Brown made shot after shot late to counter Hutchison’s efforts, however, and nailed the clinching free throws after Reid’s 3-pointer. Brown was part of a controversial moment eight minutes into the second half when he appeared to elbow Reid in the face but was not ejected. He was assessed a flagrant one foul and proceeded to score 17 of the Lobos’ last 19 points.
“I have a good crew of officials out there that I trust will make the right call,” Rice said. “I have to look at it on film.”
Reid finished with 18 points while redshirt sophomore David Wacker scored all 12 of his points in the second half.
Boise State hosts Wyoming (16-11, 6-8) at 4 p.m. Saturday (Root Sports). Though Hutchison admitted Tuesday’s loss stung, he is confident his team will rally. The Broncos defeated the Cowboys 80-65 in their first meeting on Jan. 28.
“This has happened a couple times with us. ... We’re not worried about where we’re going to be in a month,” Hutchison said. “It’s still wide open.”
Notes: Boise State went on a 15-4 run to cut the margin to four points at 57-53 with 8:29 remaining. …Chandler Hutchison now has 424 points on the season, the 60th 400-point season in Boise State history. Hutchison also has 203 rebounds, registering the 18th 400-point, 200-rebound season in program history. … James Reid finished with 18 points, including four three-pointers. Reid has scored in double figures in seven of the last 10 games, including six games with at least 16 points.
Boise State women host Lobos on Wednesday
Fresh off a 69-59 win at Air Force last Saturday, the Broncos (16-7, 6-6 Mountain West) return to Taco Bell Arena to take on New Mexico (14-10, 9-4) at 7 p.m.
Boise State lost the first meeting in Albuquerque 75-68 despite a late rally.
Boise State is led by senior Brooke Pahukoa (13.3 points per game), while Cherise Beynon is third in the Mountain West in scoring at 16.1 points per game. She also leads the conference in assists per game (6.6).
The game is the annual Play4Kay/Cancer Awareness (Pink) Game. Fans wearing pink receive tickets for $3.