Boise State coach Leon Rice said he was surprised when Nevada’s Caleb and Cody Martin decided in late May to return to college for their senior seasons instead of staying in the NBA Draft.
The feeling Saturday at Lawlor Events Center might have been a little different — disappointment.
Not because Rice doesn’t like the Martins. In fact, he does. You just can’t blame him for not wanting to play against the North Carolina State transfers who have turned Nevada into a top-10 team.
Caleb Martin scored a game-high 30 points and Cody Martin added 21 points as No. 8 Nevada beat Boise State, 93-73, before 11,207 fans, the 13th-largest crowd in school history. The 51 points were the most the Martin twins have paired for in a game this year and the second most they’ve tallied at Nevada.
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“You chose your poison,” Rice said. “If you decide not to let them have a three, then they’ll drive and foul out your whole team. They’re competitors and can make the right decision no matter how you play them. There are some players who you throw them the curveball and they can’t hit the curveball.
“There’s not a pitch they can’t hit. They have such a high basketball IQ and the skill to go with it.”
It wasn’t just the Martins’ scoring that doomed Boise State. The 23-year-old twin seniors also combined for 10 assists, eight rebounds, five steals and two blocks while playing 76 of a potential 80 minutes.
“They just bring a certain aggressiveness,” Boise State’s Justinian Jessup said. “They’re tough to guard. They put a lot of foul pressure on you. Caleb hit tough shots. They’re hard to guard. Simple as that.”
Rice said he rarely has “Oh, my!” moments when watching his competition play, “but I probably said that 10 times tonight.” The Wolf Pack’s offense was simply that good, which negated one of Boise State’s stronger offensive games of the season. Playing against an elite defense, the Broncos hit 46.4 percent of their shots, including 9-of-21 3-pointers. Four Broncos scored in double figures, with Alex Hobbs leading the way with 21 points. Jessup and Derrick Alston each had 19 points and Zach Haney added 12.
But Boise State, which shot 60 percent in the second half, couldn’t stick with Nevada’s red-hot offense.
“They’re a team that makes runs like that, but it seemed like tonight the runs never stopped,” Rice said. “Sometimes they’re making threes those runs never stop. When they start missing a couple, you have a chance. We did all we could offensively in the second half, but we couldn’t make up ground. We couldn’t get a stop and even when we did get a stop they’d come down and hit two threes in a row.”
Boise State’s only lead came when Alston opened the game with a 3-pointer. Nevada then went on a 12-0 run and used another run late in the first half — a 7-0 spurt — to turn a four-point lead into a 41-30 intermission edge. With Nevada 58-1 in its last 59 games leading at half, that deficit was just too large.
“We missed two free throws and then came down and (Jordan) Caroline hit a three,” Jessup said of the late 7-0 run. “That’s what you want him to do, to take a three. It was tough. We were where we wanted to be and they just made a little run at the end and they kept the momentum right into the second half.”
Jessup scored eight points in the first two minutes of the second half but Nevada scored right along with him. Boise State’s last look at the game came after Hobbs hit a runner with 12:14 left to cut the deficit to 62-53. Nevada (21-1, 8-1) scored the next seven points and led by double digits from there on out.
“They’re No. 8 in the country for a reason,” Alston said. “They have a talented team and they had all the answers for us, but I’m proud of our guys and how we fought the whole game until the last minute.”
Boise State hung with Nevada last month at Taco Bell Arena, holding a late lead against the Wolf Pack before Cody Martin hit a contested game-winning 3-pointer with 4.5 seconds left. Nevada has made big strides since then, especially on offense, and simply had too much firepower in the rematch.
“When Nevada is playing like this, you have to play a perfect game,” Rice said.
Boise State was unable to do that, with most of the issues Saturday coming on the defensive end.
Nevada shot 55.6 percent from the field and was especially effective from three. Entering the game, Boise State had held foes to the lowest 3-point shooting percentage in conference games among MW teams. But the Wolf Pack nailed 13-of-28 treys, with Caleb Martin hitting five and Cody Martin adding two. Caroline (13 points, 12 rebounds, five assists), Jazz Johnson (12 points) and Tre’Shawn Thurman (10) each reached double figures in scoring for Nevada, which limited itself to just four turnovers.
“They just feed off the crowd like Grand Canyon did, but they’re a lot more talented,” said Jessup, comparing the Lawlor crowd to Boise State’s non-league game at Grand Canyon. “They’re a really good team. They hit a lot of shots. We’re not going to sulk, pout. We’re going to move on to the next one.”
Boise State (10-12, 5-4) returns to action Wednesday at 9 p.m. when it hosts UNLV. The Broncos said that game is a key matchup that will help dictate if the Broncos can stay in the top half of the Mountain West.
“It’s huge,” Jessup said. “We’re 5-4 in conference now, so it’s one of those games if you win you separate yourself from the middle of the pack and if you lose you’re kind of stuck in the middle. It’s going to be a huge game for us.”
Notes: Boise State was down a key player as junior guard RJ Williams did not make the trip due to strep throat. Williams, who started 15 of the team’s first 20 games, is averaging 10.6 points and 5.3 rebounds per game. Rice is optimistic Williams will be able to play Wednesday against UNLV. … The Broncos fell to 0-18 all-time against top 10 teams. Boise State is 8-50 against ranked teams, including a 3-26 mark on the road. … Despite the early start (3 p.m. local time), Boise State was unable to get back to town after the game and spent the night in Reno. … Nevada moved to 54-5 at home under coach Eric Musselman.
Women: Boise State 80, Nevada 65
The Boise State women’s basketball team maintained its share of first place in the Mountain West standings with a victory over Nevada on Saturday afternoon at Taco Bell Arena.
The Broncos connected on their first 11 shots and shot 92 percent from the field in the first quarter to give themselves a big enough lead to withstand a cold-shooting second half. It took 8:32 of game time before the Broncos’ first miss.
Five Broncos reached double digits, with junior guard Riley Lupfer leading the way with 14 points. Lupfer, A’Shanti Coleman (13 points), Braydey Hodgins (12), Rachel Bowers (11) and Jayde Christopher (10) combined to shoot 56.8 percent from the floor.
Boise State (17-3, 8-1 MW) also was strong at the free-throw line, going 16-for-18 against the Wolf Pack (7-13, 3-6).
“We felt really good, but I think that starts on defense,” Lupfer said of the Broncos’ hot start. “We got some stops and that defensive energy goes into offense and then we just kept it rolling.”
After building a 50-33 halftime lead, the Broncos had to fall back on their defense in the second half. Boise State shot just 30.8 percent from the floor over the final 20 minutes but simultaneously held Nevada to a 1-for-9 performance from beyond the arc. The Broncos also outrebounded the Wolf Pack 38-20.
Boise State is back on the road next week for two games, beginning Wednesday at UNLV (7:30 p.m. MT) and then at San Jose State on Saturday (3 p.m. MT).
“Hopefully we are headed to the top,” Coleman said. “It doesn’t get any easier because we are in the second half of conference play. Teams know how we play or we are going against them for the second time.
“It is going to get tough, but I think we will be fine.”
MEN: NO. 8 NEVADA 93, BOISE STATE 73
BOISE STATE (10-12, 5-4 MW)
HOBBS, Alex 7-11 5-6 21; JESSUP, Justinian 7-16 1-1 19; ALSTON, Derrick 7-12 2-4 19; HANEY, Zach 5-8 2-4 12; WACKER, David 0-1 2-4 2; DEMBLEY, Pat 0-3 0-0 0; HARWELL, Malek 0-1 0-0 0; DICKINSON, Marcus 0-4 0-0 0. Totals 26-56 12-19 73.
NEVADA (21-1, 8-1 MW)
MARTIN, Caleb 9-16 7-9 30; MARTIN, Cody 8-11 3-3 21; CAROLINE, Jordan 6-12 0-0 13; JOHNSON, Jazz 5-8 0-0 12; THURMAN, Tre’Shawn 4-8 0-0 10; PORTER, Trey 3-6 0-1 7; BROWN, Jordan 0-0 0-0 0; CUNNINGHAM, David 0-0 0-0 0; ZOUZOUA, Nisré 0-1 0-0 0; HENSON, Corey 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 35-63 10-13 93.
Boise State................... 30 43 — 73
No. 8 Nevada.................. 41 52 — 93
3-point goals — Boise State 9-21 (JESSUP, Justinian 4-6; ALSTON, Derrick 3-6; HOBBS, Alex 2-4; DEMBLEY, Pat 0-2; DICKINSON, Marcus 0-3), Nevada 13-28 (MARTIN, Caleb 5-11; JOHNSON, Jazz 2-5; THURMAN, Tre’Shawn 2-4; MARTIN, Cody 2-3; PORTER, Trey 1-1; CAROLINE, Jordan 1-4). Fouled out — Boise State-None, Nevada-CAROLINE, Jordan. Rebounds — Boise State 30 (ALSTON, Derrick 7), Nevada 33 (CAROLINE, Jordan 13). Assists — Boise State 13 (HOBBS, Alex 4), Nevada 22 (MARTIN, Cody 7). Total fouls — Boise State 15, Nevada 20. Technical fouls — Boise State-None, Nevada-THURMAN, Tre’Shawn; TEAM. A — 11,207.
WOMEN: BOISE ST. 80, NEVADA 65
NEVADA (7-13, 3-6 MW)
Jade Redmon 8-19 4-5 20; Camariah King 5-12 2-2 13; Kristin Dearth 5-7 0-0 10; Terae Briggs 4-4 0-0 8; Emma Torbert 2-3 2-4 6; Da’Ja Hamilton 2-7 2-2 6; Amaya West 1-1 0-1 2; Mikayla Christian 0-0 0-0 0; Essence Booker 0-2 0-2 0. Totals 27-55 10-16 65.
BOISE ST. (17-3, 8-1 MW)
LUPFER, Riley 5-11 2-2 14; COLEMAN, A’Shanti 5-7 3-4 13; HODGINS, Braydey 5-7 0-0 12; BOWERS, Rachel 3-4 5-5 11; CHRISTOPHER, Jayde 3-8 4-4 10; HERMIDA, Marta 3-5 0-0 7; HARRELL, Joyce 3-8 1-1 7; LOVILLE, Jade 1-1 0-0 3; GALERON, Sofia 1-3 0-0 2; VANDERSCHAAF, Marijk 0-1 1-2 1; TOTH, Emerald 0-0 0-0 0; WOERNER, Ellie 0-4 0-0 0; AMUNDSEN, Tess 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 29-59 16-18 80.
Nevada........................ 17 16 15 17 — 65
Boise St...................... 30 20 19 11 — 80
3-point goals — Nevada 1-9 (Camariah King 1-7; Emma Torbert 0-1; Da’Ja Hamilton 0-1), Boise St. 6-16 (HODGINS, Braydey 2-2; LUPFER, Riley 2-5; HERMIDA, Marta 1-2; LOVILLE, Jade 1-1; WOERNER, Ellie 0-3; CHRISTOPHER, Jayde 0-2; BOWERS, Rachel 0-1). Fouled out — Nevada-Terae Briggs, Boise St.-None. Rebounds — Nevada 20 (Emma Torbert 8), Boise St. 38 (COLEMAN, A’Shanti 7). Assists — Nevada 12 (Jade Redmon 4), Boise St. 11 (HERMIDA, Marta 4; CHRISTOPHER, Jayde 4). Total fouls —Nevada 17, Boise St. 15. Technical fouls — None. A — 1,627.