Boise State’s Dembley speaks to local media for the first time
Leon Rice used a time-tested coaching strategy to get his Boise State men’s basketball team back on track.
With little going right for the Broncos in the first half, Rice asked his players to turn their attention to defense, knowing sometimes the best offense is good defense.
The change in focus worked, as the Broncos charged back from a seven-point deficit for a 67-57 victory over Alabama State on Wednesday at Taco Bell Arena.
“I celebrate that second half the way we guarded,” Rice said. “... The guys adjusted and they cranked up their effort even more. I think we won that game with our defense in the second half, which was great.”
The Broncos played Wednesday’s game without junior point guard Pat Dembley. About an hour before tipoff, the athletic department announced Dembley would serve a one-game suspension for “attitude detrimental to the team,” according to a release.
“He’s just new to what we do, and there’s a standard that we live up to here. If you don’t live up to the standard, it’s my job to teach you how to,” Rice said in a postgame press conference. “One of the greatest motivators is playing, especially for guys that love to play.
“He’s going to be fine. We’re going to get him right and the team’s going to get him right.”
Dembley, a transfer from Iowa Western Community College, has started four games for the Broncos and is averaging 9.1 points, 3.6 rebounds and 2.75 assists per game.
It is Dembley’s second suspension of the season after he sat out the Broncos’ exhibition opener against Vanguard for his June arrest on a misdemeanor charge of disturbing the peace.
“We’ve got guys that are working really hard together, and I want to make sure that we’re all together and that it’s about ‘we.’ It’s never about ‘me,’ ” Rice said. “Pat, he’s a competitor and he wants to learn. He wants to get better, and that’s what we’re going to help him do.”
Just last week, Dembley spoke to local media members for the first time. He apologized for the arrest.
“I just want everybody to know that that’s not who I am,” Dembley said last week. “I want everybody to know that I’m grateful for second chances, because the coaches didn’t have to take me back after what happened. ... I definitely thought I blew it, but thanks to Coach Rice and all the other coaches. They believed in me and they put their trust in me to not (let it) happen again.”
In his second game back from an ankle injury, junior Alex Hobbs made his first appearance in the Broncos’ starting lineup this season. Hobbs scored a season-high 15 points in a career-high 37 minutes, and his 3-pointer with 19:07 on the clock in the second half started a 17-0 run for Boise State.
The Broncos (4-5) also held the Hornets (2-5) without a field goal for more than 8 minutes in the second half, building a 15-point lead, 51-36, with 10:46 remaining in the game.
Alabama State’s Jacoby Ross then scored 11 of the Hornets’ next 15 points to pull within 55-51 with 6:06 left.
In earlier losses this season, the Broncos haven’t been able to answer when an opponent makes a late run.
But they made a stand against the Hornets.
“I think they showed some grit tonight,” Rice said. “They flew around. They made some hustle plays, and they got each other great shots. We made big progress.”
Junior Justinian Jessup made four 3-pointers and paced the Broncos in scoring with 16 points. Jessup now has 164 career 3-pointers, moving him into 10th in Boise State history. He passed Roberto Bergersen and Chris Childs, who were tied for 10th with 163 apiece.
RJ Williams added 12 points and nine rebounds, and Zach Haney had 11 points on 4-for-6 shooting from the field.
“Personally, and I think everybody else thinks this, too, it doesn’t matter if you blow it out or if it’s a grimy win, a win’s a win at the end of the day,” Haney said. “It’s going to be there on the stat sheet and that’s all we’re looking for.”
Up next for the Broncos is their first of two nonconference games against Oregon this month. Boise State plays at Matthew Knight Arena at 7 p.m. MT on Saturday. The Ducks then visit Taco Bell Arena on Saturday, Dec. 29.
BOISE STATE 67, ALABAMA STATE 57
ALABAMA ST. (2-5)
Jacoby Ross 6-16 1-2 17; Fausto Pichardo 4-6 3-4 11; Gene Davis 3-5 0-1 8; AJ Farrar 3-7 0-0 7; Branden Johnson 3-4 0-1 6; Kevin Holston 1-7 0-0 3; Leon Daniels 1-8 0-0 3; Tobi Ewuosho 1-3 0-0 2; Austin Rogers 0-1 0-1 0; Azariah Seay 0-2 0-0 0. Totals 22-59 4-9 57.
BOISE ST. (4-5)
Justinian Jessup 5-14 2-3 16; Alex Hobbs 5-8 4-4 15; RJ Williams 4-9 4-4 12; Zach Haney 4-6 2-4 11; Derrick Alston 2-8 0-1 5; Malek Harwell 0-1 3-4 3; Marcus Dickinson 1-2 0-0 3; David Wacker 1-1 0-0 2. Totals 22-49 15-20 67.
Alabama St.................... 30 27 — 57
Boise State................... 25 42 — 67
3-point goals — Alabama St. 9-25 (Ross 4-8; Davis 2-4; Farrar 1-3; Holston 1-4; Daniels 1-5; Seay 0-1), Boise State 8-23 (Jessup 4-10; Hobbs 1-3; Haney 1-2; Alston 1-6; Dickinson 1-1; Harwell 0-1). Fouled out — None. Rebounds — Alabama St. 32 (Ewuosho 8), Boise State 37 (Williams 9). Assists — Alabama St. 10 (Davis 4), Boise State 14 (Dickinson 4). Total fouls — Alabama St. 19, Boise State 15. Technical fouls — None. A — 3,476.