Boise State basketball coach Leon Rice after 94-71 win over Wyoming
There was no chance Boise State would leave Saturday’s game in the hands of the officials.
Three days of analysis, debate, statements and reversals could have worn on the Broncos’ men’s basketball team after junior forward James Webb III’s shot at the end of overtime Wednesday at Colorado State should have counted.
If anything, it inspired the team to its 94-71 rout of Wyoming in front of a crowd of 7,334 at Taco Bell Arena, one of the Broncos’ most complete performances of the season.
“I’m not going to lie, it was a stressful week, a tough, unique thing to go through,” Boise State coach Leon Rice said. “It was stressful on our whole program, but it’s a credit to our guys, their character, their backbone, to be able to bounce back.
“It was an impressive effort, by them, it was much-needed. I have a lot of hope for what’s in front of us.”
Rice gave his team until Thursday afternoon to process Wednesday’s 97-93 double-overtime loss, but it wasn’t until Friday afternoon the Mountain West reversed course and said Webb’s shot was good, a timing malfunction the reason for the confusion.
Trying not to let it be a distraction, Boise State (17-9, 8-5) could hardly avoid the firestorm, the national attention and the lingering feeling it should have won. But if anything, it became a motivational tool for the Broncos to turn it around after losing four of their previous five games.
“I think it shows what we can do, what we can be. We play every game like this, I feel like we can win out from here,” Webb said. “... I think it was a lot of fuel to our fire. We had a crazy practice (Friday).”
Carrying over from what junior forward Nick Duncan said was “a practice where we let everything out, got everyone on the same page,” five Broncos scored in double figures, led by Webb’s 21 points and 11 rebounds. Senior guards Mikey Thompson and Lonnie Jackson had 16 points apiece, with senior guard/forward Anthony Drmic added 12 points, and Duncan contributed 11.
The balanced offensive effort led to the most points a Wyoming (12-14, 5-8) team has allowed in regulation in Larry Shyatt’s 189 games as coach.
Boise State outrebounded Wyoming 17-5 in the second half, hitting 14-of-14 free throws in the final 20 minutes, and did not allow a point for a 4-minute, 12-second stretch that saw the lead balloon from 10 to 22 with fewer than 3 minutes to play. The Broncos kept Wyoming senior guard Josh Adams at bay, holding the nation’s No. 3 scorer to 1-of-9 shooting in the first half and 16 points overall.
“We just wanted to come out and put our best foot forward, play as hard as we could, and I feel like that’s what we did. A lot of the guys stepped up,” said Drmic, who was part of a bench that shot 14-of-18 from the field.
A week after losing 61-53 at Air Force and some genuine concerns about the Broncos’ confidence, they’ve put together two consecutive solid offensive efforts. And both were wins, Rice stressed.
“I think we’re starting to play Bronco basketball (again). We’re moving the ball,” Jackson said.
Trying to keep pace in the top half of the Mountain West, the Broncos are back on the road Wednesday at New Mexico, their first chance to get revenge for a conference loss this season.
“Sometimes events galvanize a team. We’ve got a pretty good-looking team right now,” Rice said. “... In my however many years of coaching, in all the games I’ve ever been in, in NCAA Tournament games, I’ve never wanted a win worse than today, for them. Pretty happy they got it done.”
Broncos 94 Cowboys 71
- Wednesday: Boise State (17-9, 8-5 MW) at New Mexico (15-10, 8-4), 8 p.m. (CBSSN)
- Saturday’s box score and Mountain West standings6B