Boise State Football

Ailing Boise State hangs on for road win at Air Force

Air Force guards Trevor Lyons and Caleb Morris fight for the ball against Boise State guard Lexus Williams (left to right).
Air Force guards Trevor Lyons and Caleb Morris fight for the ball against Boise State guard Lexus Williams (left to right). JERILEE BENNETT, THE GAZETTE

Boise State’s first bye of the season arrived just in time.

The Broncos maintained sole possession of second place in the Mountain West Conference standings with a 70-64 victory against Air Force on Saturday night at Clune Arena in Colorado Springs, Colo.

A tired and ailing Boise State (18-4, 8-2) squad will now have a week between games after matching the best 22-game start since the 1988-89 team also started its campaign 18-4.

“We need our bye, and our guys did a good job of kind of hanging in there. We’ve got a locker room full of nagging coughs and strep throat and all kinds of things going on,” Boise State coach Leon Rice told the Bronco Radio Network. “We need to get healthy, and (the bye) couldn’t come at a better time, especially after a win.”

Seniors Lexus Williams and Chandler Hutchison each scored a team-high 16 points for the Broncos. Williams went 4-for-6 from 3-point range, including a trey with 3:09 left that broke a 59-59 tie and put the Broncos ahead for good.

Sophomore Marcus Dickinson chipped in nine points, seven of which came over about a two-minute stretch in the final five minutes of the game.

“That was big. Marcus is a winner. He’s clutch,” Rice said.

The Broncos committed 11 of their 15 turnovers in the first half, but the sloppy start didn’t translate on the scoreboard. Boise State was up 29-25 at halftime despite the fact that Hutchison — the Broncos’ leading scorer at 19.9 points per game — did not have a field goal until a drive and dunk with 4:35 remaining on the clock. Hutchison had as many points (five) as he did turnovers in the first 20 minutes of play.

“We tried to stick the square peg in the round hole in the first half,” Rice said.

But Boise State used a 12-2 run to close out the first half and erased as much as a six-point deficit with the help of eight offensive rebounds that led to 10 second-chance points. The Broncos outrebounded the Falcons (8-12, 2-6) 29-25 and went a perfect 12-for-12 from the free-throw line.

Playing in front of fans from his home state, Longmont, Colorado, product Justinian Jessup was 4-for-6 from 3-point range off the bench. His second trey just before the break gave the Broncos a little breathing room. Jessup finished with 12 points and made more than two 3s for the first time since he had five against New Mexico on Jan. 3.

“This would have been hard to stomach, losing this opportunity, because you’ve got to hold serve in a game like this,” Rice said. “It’s easier said than done. Everybody thinks you’re just going to go there and win easily. … It’s never easy here.”

Boise State, which next plays at home against UNLV on Feb. 3, is 4-3 at Air Force and 10-4 all-time in the series against the Falcons.

Rachel Roberts: 208-377-6422, @byrachelroberts

BOISE ST. 70, AIR FORCE 64

BOISE ST. (18-4): Sengfelder 2-5 0-0 4, Haney 3-4 0-0 6, Hutchison 5-10 4-4 16, Williams 4-11 4-4 16, Hobbs 2-5 0-0 5, Wacker 0-0 2-2 2, Jorch 0-1 0-0 0, Dickinson 3-7 2-2 9, Jessup 4-7 0-0 12. Totals 23-50 12-12 70.

AIR FORCE (8-12): Scottie 5-14 1-2 12, Swan 3-6 11-13 19, Van Soelen 1-3 0-0 3, Van 0-3 0-0 0, Lyons 2-6 6-6 10, DeWane 1-1 0-0 2, Toohey 0-2 0-0 0, Siples 7-10 0-0 16, Tomes 0-0 0-0 0, Morris 0-1 2-2 2. Totals 19-46 20-23 64.

Halftime—Boise St. 29-25. 3-Point Goals—Boise St. 12-27 (Williams 4-6, Jessup 4-6, Hutchison 2-5, Hobbs 1-2, Dickinson 1-4, Haney 0-1, Sengfelder 0-3), Air Force 6-16 (Swan 2-3, Siples 2-4, Van Soelen 1-2, Scottie 1-2, Toohey 0-1, Morris 0-1, Lyons 0-1, Van 0-2). Fouled Out—Scottie. Rebounds—Boise St. 25 (Haney 5), Air Force 21 (Scottie, Swan 5). Assists—Boise St. 14 (Hutchison 5), Air Force 9 (Lyons 2). Total Fouls—Boise St. 18, Air Force 14. Technicals—Air Force coach Dave Pilipovich. A—2,436 (5,858).

Mountain-West men’s standings

Conf.

All

W

L

W

L

Nevada

7

1

18

4

Boise St.

8

2

18

4

New Mexico

6

3

11

11

Wyoming

5

3

14

7

Fresno St.

5

4

15

7

Utah St.

5

5

12

11

UNLV

4

4

15

6

San Diego St.

4

5

12

8

Colorado St.

3

7

10

13

Air Force

2

6

8

12

San Jose St.

0

9

3

17

Saturday’s games

Boise State 70, Air Force 64

UNLV 88, San Diego State 78

Wyoming 90, San Jose State 86 (OT)

Utah State 65, Fresno State 62

New Mexico 80, Colorado State 65

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