The Boise State men’s basketball team bested No. 24 Nevada in nearly every significant statistical category Wednesday night at Taco Bell Arena.
The Broncos had more rebounds, assists, blocks and steals — and committed fewer turnovers — but they couldn’t come up with a victory in the one statistical category that mattered most.
With first place in the Mountain West Conference up for grabs, Nevada made 5-of-6 free throws in the final minute to top Boise State 77-72 in front of a Valentine’s Day crowd of 8,611.
Boise State guard Chandler Hutchison had two open looks at the basket in the last 20 seconds of the game with the Broncos down 74-72, but the senior’s jumper in the key and a 3-pointer from the corner both missed.
“That’s a hard one, because you felt like you had two pretty darn good looks,” Boise State coach Leon Rice said. “When (Hutchison) let that 3 go from the corner, I thought it was in, to tell you the truth.”
It was the first time this season the Broncos (20-6, 10-4 MW) have lost back-to-back games, and the setback also ended their program record-tying, 13-game home winning streak.
“It’s a game of inches, and it was a battle like we knew it would be,” Rice said. “... Our locker room is devastated. They wanted to win this, and I think they gave everything they could.”
The loss leaves Boise State two losses behind Nevada (22-5, 11-2) and without a Quadrant One victory with four regular-season games remaining. That makes the Broncos’ chances of winning a Mountain West championship or obtaining an at-large berth in the NCAA Tournament more difficult, but not out of the question.
“Our season isn’t over. This isn’t the end. We have games coming up, and this is when we are going to show our real character,” Boise State senior point guard Lexus Williams said. “After the most adversity that we’ve had all year, really — our first time losing back-to-back, our first home loss — this is when we see what we’re really made of.”
Nevada has five more Mountain West games to play, including at Utah State, UNLV and San Diego State, and the Wolf Pack reportedly will be without starting point guard Lindsey Drew for the remainder of the season after he ruptured his Achilles attempting a three-quarter-court shot ahead of the halftime buzzer.
The Broncos likely would need to win out and get help from some of Nevada’s remaining opponents to overtake the Wolf Pack in the standings.
“It’s not over yet. There’s a lot of games to play,” Rice said. “You just keep fighting, but we’ve got to regroup.”
Kendall Stephens and Caleb Martin each scored 21 points to lead the Wolf Pack, who held the Broncos to a 5-for-26 performance from 3-point range while going 7-for-16 from deep themselves. Stephens made six of Nevada’s triples.
“That was a big key, not to let (Stephens) get a bunch of 3s, and he did,” Rice said. “That’s probably a big difference in the game.”
Hutchison and Chris Sengfelder each notched double-doubles for the Broncos. Hutchison finished with 13 points, 10 rebounds and six assists, and Sengfelder had 14 points and 10 boards. Williams led the Broncos in scoring with 15 points, and Justinian Jessup added 12 points, including three 3-pointers.
Boise State plays its second-to-last home game of the season against Air Force at noon Saturday (AT&T Sports/ROOT).
“Anything can happen. We knew what the stakes were coming into the game, but there’s four games left. A lot can happen at the end of a regular season,” Williams said. “We just want to come back, regroup and refocus and go and make strides to be better in the (Mountain West) Tournament.”
Note: There were 12 NBA teams represented at Wednesday’s game, including the general managers for the Atlanta Hawks and Indiana Pacers.
Women: Boise State 63, Nevada 55
Sophomore guard Riley Lupfer hit seven 3-pointers and finished with a game-high 23 points as the Broncos kept pace in the Mountain West title race with a victory at Nevada on Wednesday.
Lupfer was 7-for-10 from deep to bring her season total to 97, which is the most 3-pointers in a single season for a Boise State player — female or male.
Boise State (16-9, 10-4 MW) remains a half-game back of first place with four games left on its regular-season schedule.
Reno, Nev., native and Boise State senior Shalen Shaw, playing her final game in front of her hometown crowd, added 14 points, three rebounds, one blocked shot and one steal as the Broncos avenged a loss to Nevada (11-13, 4-9) earlier in the season.
No. 24 NEVADA 77, BOISE ST. 72
NEVADA (22-5): Co.Martin 4-9 3-4 11, Drew 2-5 0-0 4, Stephens 7-10 1-2 21, Cooke 0-0 0-0 0, Caroline 3-10 7-9 13, Foster 1-1 0-1 2, Ca.Martin 9-18 2-4 21, Hall 2-5 1-1 5. Totals 28-58 14-21 77.
BOISE ST. (20-6): Sengfelder 6-11 2-2 14, Haney 5-7 0-0 10, Jessup 4-9 1-2 12, Hutchison 4-14 5-5 13, L.Williams 5-15 3-3 15, Wacker 0-0 0-0 0, Harwell 0-1 0-0 0, Dickinson 0-3 0-0 0, Hobbs 4-9 0-0 8, Jardine 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 28-70 11-12 72.
Halftime—Nevada 37-34. 3-Point Goals—Nevada 7-16 (Stephens 6-8, Ca.Martin 1-5, Hall 0-1, Drew 0-1, Caroline 0-1), Boise St. 5-26 (Jessup 3-8, L.Williams 2-9, Sengfelder 0-1, Haney 0-1, Dickinson 0-2, Hobbs 0-2, Hutchison 0-3). Fouled Out—Haney. Rebounds—Nevada 33 (Caroline 10), Boise St. 38 (Sengfelder, Hutchison 10). Assists—Nevada 10 (Drew, Co.Martin 3), Boise St. 11 (Hutchison 6). Total Fouls—Nevada 10, Boise St. 16. Technicals—Cooke. A—11,164 (12,480).