As far as first road trips of the season are concerned, the Boise State basketball team isn’t off to its best start.
Despite a career-high 24 points and 12 rebounds from junior guard Chandler Hutchison, the Broncos were victims of a tenacious College of Charleston defense, falling to the host Cougars 60-47 at the Charleston (S.C.) Classic on Thursday.
The Boise State (1-1) loss sets up a matchup with Mississippi State (1-1) at 5 p.m. Friday (ESPN3).
“We came out playing pretty free and easy, and then all of a sudden we hit the brakes,” Boise State head coach Leon Rice said. “We have a young team. We had a lot of guys with that deer-in-the-headlight look. It’s their first road game. They were excited to play, and probably a little too excited.”
Rice started the same unit — Hutchison, freshman guard Justinian Jessup, senior forward Nick Duncan, senior guard James Reid and sophomore forward David Wacker — from Boise State’s opener against Northwest on Saturday.
Hutchison was the primary ball handler during the early portion of the game and helped Boise State jump out to a 8-1 lead behind solid decision making and timely jumpers.
Charleston (3-0), from the Colonial Athletic Association, boasted the No. 8 defense in the country in 2015-16 after surrendering 62 points per game. The Cougars lived up to that billing early, holding the Broncos to 20 first-half points on 30.8 percent shooting. Despite nine first half points from Hutchison, Boise State went scoreless for a six-minute stretch in the first half and failed to find any other consistent scoring threats.
“What we saw on film from the College of Charleston was a great defensive team,” Rice said. “The way they guard you, and they consistently guard you, they make it tough. You credit them. Their coach does such a great job with those guys. They grind you for 40 minutes.”
The Broncos turned the ball over five times in the first nine minutes and 11 times in the first half. Though Boise State’s defense played well by holding Charleston to 37 percent shooting in the first half, the young Broncos trailed by 10 at the half.
“At one point during the game I wanted to be like, this is these guys’ first road game in college basketball,” Hutchison said. “You have to realize that and approach the younger players differently. And this tournament is only going to help us in the long run.”
Boise State found a little rhythm early in the second half, as baskets from Hutchison and Wacker helped cut the Charleston lead to four. The Cougars went on a 9-0 run, however, and were up by 16 points with less than two minutes remaining. The Broncos shot 35 percent from the field and were just 7-of-16 from the free throw line.
Hutchison continued to thrive despite the lack of team offense, scoring 15 of his points in the final 20 minutes.
“I’ve seen this in practice. He’s just getting better and better and getting more confident,” Rice said. “He’s a very, very versatile player.”
The Broncos take on a Mississippi State team that was blown out by Central Florida 86-61 in its Charleston Classic opener. Despite his team’s lack of offense Thursday, Rice said he is confident the Broncos will figure things out sooner rather than later.
“Everybody on this team is in a new role, except Nick. Heck, Chandler’s in a new role. Now, he did a great job in embracing his role and doing all he could,” Rice said. “But those other guys will step into theirs.”
BSU HEADED TO PUERTO RICO in ’17
The Broncos will participate in the 2017 Tire Pros Puerto Rico Tip-Off, ESPN Events announced Thursday. The tournament will take place Nov. 16, 17 and 19 at the Coliseo Roberto Clemente in San Juan, Puerto Rico.
The rest of the field includes Florida State, Illinois State, Iowa State, South Carolina, Tulsa, UTEP and Western Michigan. Boise State has never faced Florida State or Illinois State and is a combined 10-15 all-time against the field.
- When: Thursday-Friday, Sunday
- Where: TD Arena (5,100), Charleston, S.C.
- Friday: Boise State vs. Mississippi State, 5 p.m., ESPN3
- Sunday: Four games starting at 11:30 a.m.; championship game at 7:30 p.m. (ESPN2)