Boise State men’s basketball associate head coach Phil Beckner calls it “being a killer.”
That’s a label seniors Chris Sengfelder and Chandler Hutchison have no problem accepting.
The Broncos fought back from as much as a 13-point deficit for a 73-71 win against New Mexico on Tuesday night in front of a crowd of 11,357 at Dreamstyle Arena in Albuquerque, N.M.
“These guys are amazing, and they find ways to get it done,” Boise State coach Leon Rice told the Bronco Radio Network. “They just keep believing and keep fighting for each other. We just kept telling them in the huddle, ‘Just hang in there, fellas.’ ”
Boise State (20-4 overall, 10-2 Mountain West) held New Mexico (12-13, 7-5) without a field goal over the final 7:33, while Sengfelder and Hutchison orchestrated a crucial comeback to preserve the Broncos’ hopes of winning a Mountain West regular-season championship.
The Lobos missed a potential game-tying shot in the final seconds. The benches then cleared after New Mexico’s Joe Furstinger came in late trying to foul Boise State’s Marcus Dickinson, knocking him to the ground with a high hit after Dickinson had pulled down the rebound.
Boise State sophomore Justinian Jessup then pushed Furstinger away from Dickinson as members of both teams rushed into the melee.
The Mountain West is reviewing the events at the end of the game, the conference office said Wednesday.
“I don’t know what happened, but I just saw one of their guys, I think he was just trying to foul and it was probably too excessive,” said Rice, who told the Albuquerque Journal he was spit on after the game. “I don’t think he meant it to be, and then chaos ensued, but I don’t think any person threw a punch or anything.”
New Mexico coach Paul Weir apologized to Boise State, fans and the Mountain West after the game.
“I didn’t see everything that happened, but just completely unacceptable behavior,” Weir said. “I am sick about it, as sick as I am about the game, and that’s really not how a game like this should end. ... I don’t know where that behavior came from.”
Sengfelder and Hutchison combined for nine of Boise State’s final 10 points. Sengfelder’s 3-pointer with 53 seconds left cut New Mexico’s lead to 71-68, and on the next possession, Hutchison grabbed a steal near midcourt and finished with a dunk to make it 71-70.
After a New Mexico timeout, the Broncos trapped a Lobo along the baseline and Hutchison jumped in front of the next pass and converted a layup, putting the Broncos in front 72-71 with 16 seconds left. It was Boise State’s first lead since the opening minutes of the game.
Sengfelder finished with a game-leading 24 points and eight rebounds (seven offensive), and Hutchison added 23 points and 12 boards.
“The dude will do anything for us. He knows when he plays super hard like that, he’s a tough cover for anyone. He gave us that energy tonight,” Hutchison said. “We don’t win that game without those (offensive rebounds) from him and (Zach) Haney down there.”
The win was just the second in program history for the Broncos at The Pit, and it also gave the Broncos their sixth consecutive 20-win season.
“It means a lot. To have this win the way we did, it just shows a lot about our team and how we stuck together when our backs were against the wall against 12,000 loud fans,” Hutchison said.
Note: The candidate list for the 2018 Jerry West Shooting Guard of the Year Award was narrowed from 20 to 10 on Tuesday, and Hutchison was among the finalists. The award was founded by the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame and recognizes the top shooting guards in Division I men’s basketball. It is in its fourth year. Hutchison is averaging 19.8 points, 7.5 rebounds and 3.6 assists per game and is the only candidate who leads his team in all three statistical categories. Five finalists will be chosen in March, and the winner will be honored at ESPN’s College Basketball Awards on April 6.
Women: Broncos prep for Lobos
Boise State hosts New Mexico at 7 p.m. Wednesday in the first of two home games this week at Taco Bell Arena.
The Broncos (13-9, 7-4 MW) lost 100-83 at New Mexico (18-6, 6-5) on Jan. 3 and sit one game ahead of the Lobos in the conference standings.
In celebration of the 32nd annual National Girls & Women In Sports Day, the Broncos will honor the memory of Connie Thorngren, who is considered the pioneer of Boise State women’s sports. Thorngren passed away on Oct. 1, 2017.
The Broncos continue Mountain West play against Utah State at 2 p.m. Saturday.
BOISE STATE 73, NEW MEXICO 71
BOISE ST. (20-4): Sengfelder 8-11 6-6 24, Haney 2-10 4-4 8, Jessup 0-2 1-2 1, Williams 2-4 0-0 5, Hutchison 10-16 3-3 23, Wacker 0-1 0-0 0, Hobbs 3-8 0-0 6, Dickinson 2-9 0-0 5, Harwell 0-0 1-2 1, Jardine 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 27-62 15-17 73.
NEW MEXICO (12-13): Furstinger 3-6 2-2 8, McNeal 2-6 0-0 6, Mathis 5-10 3-4 17, Kuiper 4-6 1-2 11, Maluach 2-5 1-2 5, Simons 2-3 1-2 6, A.Jackson 2-7 4-4 10, Logwood 4-9 0-0 8. Totals 24-52 12-16 71.
Halftime—New Mexico 40-29. 3-Point Goals—Boise St. 4-12 (Sengfelder 2-3, Williams 1-2, Dickinson 1-3, Jardine 0-1, Haney 0-1, Hutchison 0-2), New Mexico 11-23 (Mathis 4-6, Kuiper 2-4, McNeal 2-5, A.Jackson 2-6, Simons 1-2). Fouled Out—Maluach, Williams. Rebounds—Boise St. 40 (Hutchison 12), New Mexico 26 (Furstinger 7). Assists—Boise St. 6 (Jessup, Hutchison 2), New Mexico 15 (McNeal 5). Total Fouls—Boise St. 14, New Mexico 15.