Everyone played, no one got hurt and the home team dominated — just what the Boise State Broncos wanted.
In Wednesday's 100-36 whipping of Willamette, all 11 who got on the floor saw solid minutes and let coach Leon Rice see a little more from a team he challenged to step up after back-to-back losses.
“Exactly what we wanted. The gauntlet we just ran was tough on us,” Rice said. “We were tired, beat up a little bit. We were down in the dumps, feeling sorry for ourselves maybe. This was nice to blow out the carburetors a little bit and let the horses run.”
No Boise State starter beside freshman guard Paris Austin logged more than 18 minutes, but every bench player had at least 10 minutes on the Taco Bell Arena floor as the Broncos (4-4) created the second-largest margin of victory in school history.
After Sunday's 68-59 loss to then-No. 11 Arizona at the Wooden Legacy, Rice said “basically these guys have to try out” as the team has yet to settle in to solid rotations. Against the Bearcats, the bench combined for 56 points, led by senior guard Lonnie Jackson's 19 and sophomore guard Chandler Hutchison's 17.
“For sure, (Rice) held us accountable, pushing each and everyone to go harder in practice, don’t take anything lightly,” said Austin, who had 16 points, six rebounds and four assists.
Sophomore center David Wacker had a season-high eight points, six rebounds and two assists in 18 minutes. Initially slated to redshirt, he did not play in the season opener but has found a role as an energy guy off the bench.
“A roller coaster,” Wacker described the start of his season. “... My thought always was I want to do whatever the team needs. When it got to a point where we saw I could fill a spot the team needed, then there was no question in my mind that I wanted to step in and play.”
Boise State wasted no time establishing its dominance, leading by double digits 5:45 into the game and continuing to lean on the gas. The Bearcats were 3-of-29 from the field in a 17-minute stretch from late in the first half until less than six minutes remained.
Willamette shot 22.8 percent (13-of-57), while Boise State had a 49-26 rebounding edge — junior forward James Webb III had 13 points and 10 rebounds. Brandon Luedtke (Mountain View High), the Bearcats’ top scorer coming into the game (15.6 ppg), did not score in his 18 minutes. The Broncos scored 32 points off 21 turnovers and had 20 assists.
Experimenting with different lineups, including one that had three players 6-foot-10 or taller, the Broncos put up their third straight 100-point home game for the first time ever.
“That’s hard to do, no matter who you play,” Rice said.
The Broncos visit Portland on Saturday, then get five straight home games over the next four weeks.
“As we hit this next section of the season, the rest of our (nonconference) games before conference is just getting rhythm,” Wacker said. “I felt like we got that tonight, which I think is a really good thing for our team.”
Former Bronco coach returns to Boise
The Boise State women’s basketball team hosts a big name at 7 p.m. Thursday in Washington State (5-1).
June Daugherty went 123-74 as Boise State’s head coach from 1989-96. She is in her ninth season as the Cougars’ head coach. WSU went 17-15 last season and reached the WNIT.
A victory would give BSU coach Gordy Presnell, in his 11th season, a program-record 180th victory. The Broncos (3-2) beat Stetson 71-65 and lost to Auburn 55-53 last weekend in Puerto Rico.
Tickets are $6 for adults, $3 for youths/senior citizens and free for students. The game will be broadcast on KTIK 1350 AM and on BroncoSports. com/videos.