Steely vets did what they do best, and raw rookies flashed serious potential for the Boise State men’s and women’s basketball teams Friday at Taco Bell Arena.
The men rolled to a 79-55 win over Northwest in the nightcap, preceded by the women’s 102-50 rout of Southern Oregon.
For men’s coach Leon Rice, his NBA-caliber forward delivered, and his highly-touted point guard wowed the crowd in his debut. Junior forward James Webb III had 17 points and 14 rebounds, while freshman point guard Paris Austin added a game-high 18 points.
“Really pleased with that,” Rice said.
The Broncos set the pace, rushing out to a 15-0 lead only 5 minutes into the game, forcing six turnovers.
“Looked like they weren’t going to score on us. Looked like we could score 200, that was pretty efficient. We were moving the ball well,” Rice said.
Boise State handled the zone all night, using 22 assists on 29 field goals by running what Rice said was a “vanilla” offense. Sometimes plain can be good, as all eight Broncos who logged more than a minute scored at least four points.
“We played well offensively, moving the ball, getting everybody touches,” Webb said.
Webb and sophomore guard Chandler Hutchison had double-doubles, with Hutchison filling up the stat sheet with 11 points, 10 rebounds, six assists and no turnovers.
“It’s a lot slower. Last year I got caught up a lot in the back and forth, the overwhelming pace of the game, but now I could think before things happen,” Hutchison said.
Be it the shortest player in the game (the 5-foot-11 Austin) or the tallest (6-11 redshirt freshman forward Zach Haney), the Broncos had contributions. Haney had nine points and 10 rebounds, while Austin dazzled with excellent moves in traffic, getting to the basket with ease.
“It felt fine, just to have people in the gym. It was exciting, and I just wanted to play hard,” Austin said.
Ben Tucakovic (Borah High) was among three Northwest scorers with 12 points apiece. Four Broncos did not play — freshman guard Malek Harwell is out for the season with a knee injury, and sophomore center David Wacker is expected to redshirt.
Senior guards Mikey Thompson and Montigo Alford sat with knee and hernia injuries, respectively, but Rice expects them back for Friday’s opener at Montana (home opener is Nov. 16 against Northern Arizona).
Senior guard Anthony Drmic, in his first action at Taco Bell Arena since Nov. 18, 2014, had four points, four rebounds and six assists in 27 minutes.
After three turnovers the first half, the Broncos gave up 10 in the second half. Rice noted fatigue set in with a shortened rotation, but also will use it as a lesson looking ahead.
“There’s a lot to learn from this, we’ve got to get a heck of a lot better the next four or five practices before this opener,” Rice said.
Five Broncos scored in double figures, led by junior guard Brooke Pahukoa’s 23 points and nine rebounds.
Freshman forward Joyce Harrell had 22 points and 11 rebounds in her debut, and fellow freshman Marta Hermida added 13 points. Sophomore forward Shay Shaw had 20 points and eight rebounds, and senior center Miquelle Askew had 10 points.
“It was huge. A lot of girls who maybe didn’t score as much, but they did huge things. ... I saw them do some things they hadn’t even done in practice,” Pahukoa said.
Junior guard Yaiza Rodriguez had 16 assists, and the Broncos shot 56.3 percent (40-of-71).
“Really pleased with our veterans. I thought Yaiza was unbelievable,” coach Gordy Presnell said. “(Those) freshmen are going to be really fine players.”
Harrell dominated in her 16 minutes, notching the double-double and showing the Seattle native will be another strong presence inside with Askew and the versatile Shaw.
“It felt really good. My team supported me, just pushed me to be the person I can be,” Harrell said.