Big runs changed fortunes throughout Saturday’s game at Portland’s Chiles Center, but the final one went Boise State’s way.
The Broncos saw a big second-half lead dwindle into nothing, then used a strong finish to beat the Portland Pilots 81-71 for their first road win of the season.
Boise State (5-4) led 60-48 with less than 12 minutes to play, but the Pilots cut into it, eventually tying it 67-67 with 5:15 to go. However, the Broncos salted it away, hitting 10-of-12 free throws after that and held Portland without a point for a 3:55 span until 22 seconds remained.
“It had to be a great game to watch, a great game to play in, but a great one to win,” Boise State coach Leon Rice said on KBOI 670 AM after the game.
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Senior guard/forward Anthony Drmic led the Broncos with a season-high 24 points to go with seven rebounds and three assists. Junior forward Nick Duncan added 16 points, senior guard Mikey Thompson had 14 and senior guard Lonnie Jackson added 11 off the bench. Junior forward James Webb III had 14 rebounds and five points. Boise State hit 10-of-34 3-pointers, one attempt shy of tying the school record.
The Broncos overcame a brutal defensive start to take a 43-40 halftime lead.
The Pilots made eight of their first 10 field goals and jumped out to an early 17-7 lead 5:20 into the game. But Boise State answered with a 14-4 run to tie it and a 9-0 run kick-started by a Jackson 3-pointer gave the Broncos the lead for the first time with less than four minutes to halftime. Portland finished the first half 18-of-39 shooting as the Broncos led 43-40 at the break and never trailed in the last 17:18. Guard Alec Wintering had 26 points to lead Portland (4-5).
Sophomore center David Wacker did not make the trip to Portland after suffering a foot injury in practice. He broke a bone and had a mid-foot strain in his left foot. There is no timetable for his return, nor is there a guarantee he will return this season. A break may have kept him out 4-6 weeks, but the strain makes recovery more difficult.
Wacker had been slated to redshirt this season, sitting out the Broncos’ Nov. 13 opener, but he played three days later in the home opener. In the seven games he’s played, he logged 80 minutes with 26 points and 13 rebounds. He had season-highs of 18 minutes, eight points and six rebounds Wednesday against Willamette.