Consider it the ideal senior night for the Boise State men’s basketball team.
A picture-perfect finish for the Broncos’ star for the past half-decade, a strong return for its current lights-out talent and a dominating performance all around.
In Boise State’s 76-57 rout of Nevada on Wednesday at Taco Bell Arena, the Broncos continued their strong push toward the end of the regular season with their fourth win in the past five games.
“Those senior nights are tough. You’re always worried about all the emotion of a night like that, you just hope you can manage it, and I thought we did a great job,” Boise State coach Leon Rice said. “... Credit to our guys. They sent (the seniors) out of this building the right way.”
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Fifth-year senior guard/forward Anthony Drmic put up one of his best games, and there are plenty to choose from, for Boise State (20-10, 11-6 MW) in likely his last game in front of the home crowd. His game-highs of 22 points and 11 rebounds were good enough for his fourth career double-double, his first since Jan. 8, 2014.
Those 22 points propelled him past Derrick Marks for third in school history, and he now sits 28 points shy of breaking the record with 1,917 career points.
“It was fun, able to put on a good show. ... I just went out there and played as hard as I could,” Drmic said.
Against the Wolf Pack (18-11, 10-7), Drmic started for the first time since Feb. 6, along with the Broncos’ three other seniors — guards Mikey Thompson, Lonnie Jackson and Montigo Alford. Drmic had thrived off the bench, but Rice noted he gave up his starting spot for Thomas Bropleh on senior day two years ago.
“He’ll always say, ‘Whatever helps the team.’ But I could see in his eyes he wanted to, and he deserves to, so it worked out great,” Rice said.
Joining Drmic as the Broncos’ other scorer in double figures was junior forward James Webb III, the team’s top scorer and rebounder who missed Saturday’s win at San Diego State with a sprained medial collateral ligament in his right knee. He said he felt “a half step slow” early on, but finished with 15 points and seven rebounds.
“It was good, sore right now. I tried to push it a little bit, playing a lot of minutes, but I’m fine. I’ll be all right,” said Webb, who played 23 minutes.
The Broncos never trailed, leading by double figures the entire second half. Paced by an inspired defensive effort, they held Nevada to 1-of-14 shooting from 3-point range and forced the Wolf Pack into 19 turnovers with just four assists. Rice said the team needed to find ways to mix things up, and the Broncos used some stout zone defense the past three games especially. After losing four of five, the Broncos have begun to play their best at the right time.
“Doing what we wanted to do,” said junior forward Nick Duncan, who had eight points, five rebounds and five assists. “We got a little lost there. ... I think we’ve learned the last couple weeks we’re a much better team playing together.”
Wednesday’s win ensures either the second or third seed for the Broncos in next week’s Mountain West Tournament. They close out the regular season Saturday at bottom-dwelling San Jose State.
“I think we’re playing really good basketball, considering all the things that have happened and what we just did,” Rice said. “... We’re playing great, our guys have a great attitude, great energy right now. We’ve got to keep it rolling.”
Boise State (20-10, 11-6 MW) at San Jose St. (8-21, 3-14), 3 p.m. Saturday (670 AM)