Leon Rice was sitting across the dinner table from Chandler Hutchison on a recruiting visit to his home in Mission Viejo, California, when he learned about Hutchison’s commitment to the Boise State men’s basketball team via text message.
Hutchison’s AAU basketball coach spilled the beans to Rice before Hutchison got the chance to tell his future coach himself, but it sure makes for a good story looking back.
“It just went by so quick,” Rice said. “I mean, it was a minute ago that we were recruiting him.”
Hutchison and fellow seniors Chris Sengfelder and Lexus Williams played their final scheduled game at Taco Bell Arena on Saturday night, combining for 57 points in Boise State’s 95-87 victory over Wyoming to wrap up their Mountain West regular-season schedule in front of 10,303 fans.
Sengfelder, who was playing despite spraining an ankle during practice Friday, totaled a game-leading 24 points with seven rebounds, and Williams matched his career high with 22 points and five assists while going a perfect 12-for-12 from the free-throw line.
“(Athletic trainer) Seth (Rede) said to me: ‘Maybe we should sit Christian out?’ ” Rice said.
The coach’s answer: “OK, we’ll sit him out for senior night. You go tell him.”
“It would have taken an elephant gun to shoot him in the neck, otherwise he would have played,” Rice said. “There was no stopping him.”
Hutchison fouled out for the first time this season with 3:13 left in the game, but still managed 11 points, six rebounds and three assists in just 21 minutes. It was the 87th victory of his Boise State career, which ties the program record held by Mikey Thompson (2012-16).
Sengfelder and Williams joined the Broncos this season as graduate transfers, otherwise Hutchison would have been honored as the lone senior on the 2017-18 squad.
“You couldn’t have scripted it any better as far as the kind of kids you could bring in, and you couldn’t have scripted it any better for the help that you gave this team on the basketball court,” Rice said. “It’s just remarkable. They came into somebody else’s team — it was Chandler’s team — and they just came alongside him and helped him so much in leadership.
“That’s not an easy thing for seniors to do. Kids these days, everybody’s got egos and this and that. But these young men don’t have any. They care about the right things. They care about their teammates. They care about winning. They care about representing this program the right way in the way they play, the way they carry themselves and the way they compete. … You couldn’t ask for better.”
Boise State (23-7, 13-5 MW) already had secured the No. 2 seed in next week’s Mountain West Tournament at the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas. The Broncos will play the winner of Wednesday’s first-round game between Utah State and Colorado State at 7 p.m. MT Thursday.
Saturday’s victory avenged a 79-78 loss in overtime at Wyoming on Jan. 6 and provided the boost the Broncos needed heading into do-or-die tournament play. Boise State finished among the top three in the conference standings for the fourth consecutive season, which is the longest current streak of any team in the Mountain West.
“We had a bitter taste in our mouths kind of about how it went down in Wyoming,” Hutchison said. “We wanted to come out tonight and finish that strong. From that standpoint, we were geared up and ready to go. Now the gears switch to these next couple we’ve got that are really important to us.”
Boise State likely needs to win the Mountain West Tournament championship in order to earn a spot in the NCAA Tournament.
“I’m trying to get a ring. That’s probably the most important part,” Sengfelder said. “It was an exciting game, definitely emotional too in the beginning, but then in the end the focus was all about getting the W here tonight and then going to Vegas.”
Notes: Saturday’s game featured 54 fouls — 29 for the Cowboys and 25 for the Broncos — and Hutchison and Wyoming’s Cody Kelley and Louis Adams fouled out. “I feel worse (for the fans). It was probably awful to watch,” Hutchison said after the game. … Boise State sophomore Justinian Jessup was the team’s other double-digit scorer with 15 points on 6-of-7 shooting. His two 3-pointers bring his season total to 84, putting him alone in fourth place in the program’s single-season record book. ... Mountain West Tournament seeds: 1. Nevada, 2. Boise State, 3. New Mexico, 4. Fresno State, 5. San Diego State, 6. Wyoming, 7. Utah State, 8. UNLV, 9. Air Force, 10. Colorado State, 11. San Jose State.
BOISE ST. 95, WYOMING 87
WYOMING (19-12): Herndon 5-8 0-1 12, Dalton 8-14 2-2 22, Kelley 0-1 0-0 0, James 8-17 6-10 24, Aka Gorski 3-5 1-4 9, Moemeka 0-0 2-2 2, Mueller 1-1 0-0 2, Redding 2-4 0-0 6, Adams 4-8 0-3 10. Totals 31-58 11-22 87.
BOISE ST. (23-7): Sengfelder 8-10 5-6 24, Haney 3-6 2-6 8, Hutchison 4-11 0-1 11, Jessup 6-7 1-1 15, Williams 5-12 12-12 22, Jorch 1-1 0-0 2, Dickinson 0-5 7-8 7, Hobbs 3-7 0-0 6, Harwell 0-0 0-0 0, Jardine 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 30-60 27-34 95.
Halftime—Boise St. 47-34. 3-Point Goals—Wyoming 14-27 (Dalton 4-9, Redding 2-2, Herndon 2-3, Adams 2-3, Aka Gorski 2-4, James 2-5, Kelley 0-1), Boise St. 8-18 (Sengfelder 3-5, Hutchison 3-5, Jessup 2-2, Hobbs 0-1, Dickinson 0-2, Williams 0-3). Fouled Out—Hutchison, Herndon. Rebounds—Wyoming 24 (Herndon, James 6), Boise St. 34 (Haney 9). Assists—Wyoming 18 (Dalton 5), Boise St. 11 (Williams 5). Total Fouls—Wyoming 27, Boise St. 25.
C of I runner wins national title
Molly Vitale-Sullivan dominated the women’s 5,000-meter field at the NAIA Women’s Indoor National Championships on Saturday to become just the second individual indoor national champion in College of Idaho history.
Vitale-Sullivan, a sophomore from Pocatello High, won the race at the Plaster Center in Pittsburg, Kansas, in 17:21.75 — 17 seconds faster than runner-up Audrey Brooks of Dordt (Iowa).
Vitale-Sullivan joins four-time indoor and three-time outdoor champion Hillary Holt as the Coyotes’ only individual winners at the NAIA indoor championships.