Boise State Basketball

Boise State draws perilously close to program’s worst start in more than 20 years

Junior guard Marcus Dickinson had a season-high 14 points in Boise State’s 83-74 loss to Drake on Tuesday in Des Moines, Iowa.
Junior guard Marcus Dickinson had a season-high 14 points in Boise State’s 83-74 loss to Drake on Tuesday in Des Moines, Iowa. Drake Athletics

On six different occasions in the second half, the Boise State men’s basketball team pulled within three points of Drake.

While the Broncos had little trouble manufacturing points, they couldn’t come up with the necessary defensive stops to ultimately close the gap in an 83-74 loss to the Bulldogs on Tuesday at the Knapp Center in Des Moines, Iowa.

“You can’t just hope some of your problems go away. That’s a really bad strategy,” Boise State coach Leon Rice said during a postgame radio interview with Bob Behler on 670 AM.

“You have to make them go away, and right now we’re not doing a good enough job of that.”

As Boise State (2-4) attempted to fight its way back from a deficit as large as 12 points in the second half, foul trouble became a factor for the Broncos. RJ Williams and David Wacker each fouled out, and Justinian Jessup, Zach Haney and Pat Dembley were whistled for four fouls apiece.

That led to a huge disparity at the free-throw line, and the Bulldogs took full advantage, going 28-for-34 compared to a 10-for-15 performance for the Broncos.

“They beat us by 18 at the free-throw line, but like I just told our guys, that’s not the officials,” Rice said. “We had a Final Four level crew tonight.”

Over the final five minutes, the Broncos pulled within three points three different times. Marcus Dickinson made it 69-66 with 4:47 left on a 3-pointer. Then Jessup hit a jumper for a 71-68 deficit with 4:07 to go. Finally, a Dembley drive made it 73-70 with 3:36 on the clock.

“We had it right where we wanted it, but our guys mentally let them off the hook,” Rice said. “... You’ve got to be able to dig in and draw the line in the sand and get a stop.”

Jessup played 38 of 40 minutes and logged a team-leading 21 points, including four 3-pointers. Dickinson finished two points shy of matching his career high with 14 points and a 3-for-5 outing from deep.

“I thought (Jessup) and Marcus did a great job. They were efficient,” Rice said. “They were doing the things we need to do as a Bronco. We’ve just got to get everybody on their page and do it right. Right now we’ve got a lot of leaks. It’s not just one little thing. There’s a lot of leaks in the dike.”

Both teams shot 43.1 percent from the field, but the Bulldogs (4-1) held the advantage in rebounding (40-36), turnovers (13-9), assists (14-11), steals (9-6) and blocked shots (10-4) and now lead the all-time series 2-1.

Boise State’s 2-4 start is the worst for the program since 2006-07. The Broncos will try to avoid a 2-5 start — which hasn’t happened since 1996-97 under Rod Jensen — when they play at Grand Canyon (4-3) on Saturday in Phoenix.

“I’ve heard it said before, sometimes you have to lose with some guys before you can win with them,” Rice said. “Right now we’re experiencing that because we don’t understand what it takes on a daily basis. The commitment, how hard you have to work and how much better you have to get.”

Notes: Junior guard Alex Hobbs sat out Tuesday’s game as he continues to recover from an ankle injury. ... Boise State finishes 4-2 in Mountain West/Missouri Valley Challenge games. The Broncos defeated Indiana State (2011), Creighton (2012), Bradley (2015) and Loyola Chicago (2017), but lost to Evansville (2016) and Drake (2018).

DRAKE 83, BOISE STATE 74

BOISE STATE (2-4)

Jessup, Justinian 7-15 3-4 21; Dickinson, Marcus 4-7 3-4 14; Dembley, Pat 5-16 0-0 10; Alston, Derrick 3-6 2-2 9; Haney, Zach 4-7 0-1 8; Williams, RJ 3-10 2-4 8; Wacker, David 2-2 0-0 4; Harwell, Malek 0-2 0-0 0. Totals 28-65 10-15 74.

DRAKE (4-1)

McGlynn, Nick 8-14 7-9 23; Norton, Nick 4-13 8-8 18; Murphy, Tremell 5-10 3-5 13; Wilkins, D.J. 4-9 1-2 10; Thomas, Noah 2-3 2-2 7; Ellingson, Brady 1-5 3-4 6; Sturtz, Garrett 1-3 2-2 4; Robbins, Liam 0-0 2-2 2; Murphy, Anthony 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 25-58 28-34 83.

Boise St................... 32 42 — 74

Drake......................... 42 41 — 83

3-point goals — Boise State 8-24 (Jessup 4-8; Dickinson 3-5; Alston 1-4; Haney 0-2; Dembley 0-5), Drake 5-23 (Norton 2-8; Thomas 1-1; Wilkins 1-3; Ellingson 1-5; A. Murphy 0-1; T. Murphy, 0-2; McGlynn 0-3). Fouled out — Boise State-Wacker; Williams. Drake-None. Rebounds — Boise State 36 (Williams 9), Drake 40 (McGlynn 13). Assists — Boise State 11 (Jesup 3), Drake 14 (Norton 4). Total fouls — Boise State 27, Drake 17. Technical fouls — None. A — 2543.

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