Boise State’s season came to a possible end Thursday with its 88-81 loss to Colorado State on Thursday in Las Vegas.
The Broncos made just one of their last eight shots, seeing a 77-77 tie dissipate into a one-and-done loss in the Mountain West Tournament.
Boise State could wind up in a postseason tournament, either the NIT or the new Vegas 16, but it will be forced to wait.
Junior forward Nick Duncan had 23 points to lead the Broncos (20-12).
Halftime: Junior forward James Webb III’s importance was put into focus quickly in the first half Thursday.
Boise State’s top scorer and rebounder went to the bench with two fouls he accumulated in the first 2:57, but returned with 11:48 left in the half and played 3 more minutes. The Broncos were tied 45-45 with Colorado State at the half.
When Webb was in the game, Boise State outscored Colorado State by eight in those 6 minutes, including a 12-2 run when returned to the game after his second foul.
Junior forward Nick Duncan was outstanding offensively in the first 20 minutes, scoring 14 points on 5-of-5 shooting from the field and 2-of-2 at the free-throw line. Senior guard/forward Anthony Drmic added 10 points, leaving him just five shy of breaking the school scoring record, which has stood for 23 years.
Pregame: One could assume Boise State is seeking “revenge” after its last meeting with Colorado State turned into one of college basketball’s most hotly-debated endings.
The Broncos’ 97-93 double OT loss Feb. 10 was preceded by junior forward James Webb III’s game-winner at the end of the first overtime, but of course, it didn’t count. Still, Colorado State coach Larry Eustachy said Wednesday “we got beat twice by them,” including Jan. 2’s game.
“I think you feel the extra edge to this game because it’s the conference tournament, loser’s done, season’s over, winner gets to go on,” Boise State coach Leon Rice said.
Boise State and Colorado State face off in Las Vegas at 9:30 p.m. MT, televised on CBS Sports Network.
Colorado State’s 77.2 points per game were No. 1 in Mountain West play, with the Broncos right behind at No. 2 with 76.5 ppg. The Rams have five players who averaged double figures during the regular season, though top scorer Gian Clavell was lost for the season before conference games began. They also have been a solid rebounding team, averaging plus-5.5 per game. They beat San Jose State 80-61 on Wednesday.
“They’re a team that can score a bunch of points in a hurry, which can be pretty scary, because it’s hard to put them away, it’s hard to stop them, quite frankly,” Rice said. “You’ve just got to be consistent with your defense, because they’re going to hit some tough shots, they’re going to hit some shots you contest. They’ll probably go on some runs that go the other way for them where they miss shots. You’ve got to be able to rebound when they do miss those shots, so that’s probably a big, big key (Thursday).”
Boise State is 15-1 when outrebounding opponents this season, 5-10 when it doesn’t. The Broncos are 14-4 when holding opponents under 45 percent shooting, 6-7 otherwise.
“We have business to handle Thursday, and we know if we have everybody well-connecte together, and we can play defense, man, this team’s going to be scary once we play Thursday,” senior guard Mikey Thompson said.
A few more quick hits from Rice...
On the up and down nature of the Broncos: “My team seems to be a Stephen King character where one chapter everything’s great, then you turn the page and it’s turned into this monster you can’t recognize. ... I think we have the right mindset.”
On coming off a loss to San Jose State: “Sometimes you have a game where you wad it up, throw it away and move on. That’s kind of what we did.”
On arriving in Las Vegas on Tuesday evening, waiting to play until late Thursday: “That’s never fun. First of all, you hate late tipoffs, those are the worst.”
Check out my weekly Boise State notes here, starting with a look at Webb’s strong connection to his family.
MOUNTAIN WEST REVERSING COURSE NEXT YEAR?
The Albuquerque Journal reported Wednesday night the Mountain West presidents are expected to do an about-face, and change a decision that would have reduced the conference tournament field from 11 to eight starting next year.
Multiple sources have told me the report is correct, and official word could come Friday.
The decision was not met with much fanfare, as Wyoming coach Larry Shyatt held a teleconference to say “this action is wrong, non-inclusive,” while Rice said all coaches voted for it to remain at 11.