Last Tuesday night, Feb. 28 at 8 p.m., preparing for Senior Night against Fresno State, Nick Duncan took center court to celebrate an illustrious career along with James Reid and Matt Grooms, fellow seniors being represented that night.
Taco Bell Arena was alive with emotion and character for the final game of the season before it came to a disappointing end with a 74-67 loss as Fresno State completed the regular season sweep.
Expectations were high as chants of “Thank you seniors!” rang from the rafters in celebration of the three veterans in their final game.
Duncan, eighth all-time on the Boise State scoring list, was the highlight of the pregame festivities. His career at Taco Bell Arena came to a bitter end as he shot one for six, all from the outside with four points in total. He would eventually receive a technical foul and proceed to foul out with 51 seconds as the crowd still chanted their gratitude towards him.
Reid, the only other senior to see minutes, finished two for four with five points.
Leading scorer and Mountain West Conference Player of the Year Candidate Chandler Hutchison finished a disappointing 10 points below his average scoring only seven points on two-for-six shooting. He also contributed six turnovers to the 15 total Bronco turnovers on the night, concluding in a key plus-six turnover difference for the Bulldogs.
There were few positive takeaways from Tuesday’s game for the Broncos as all five starters failed to score in double figures.
Paris Austin led the team in scoring with 17 points as he continued his hot streak off the bench. Freshman Marcus Dickinson and Alex Hobbs both provided a spark off the bench contributing 10 and nine points, respectively. They showed glimpses of what the future could hold for the Broncos with an athletic backcourt with shooting prowess.
“The game was tough, obviously. We didn’t want the home season to end that way, especially for the seniors. We respect those guys a lot,” said redshirt sophomore David Wacker. “We know it’s not our last game. We only have two more games that are guaranteed, and we are going to pour all of our heart into them and focus on them.”
In their regular season finale, before heading to Las Vegas for the Mountain West Conference tournament, the Broncos beat Air Force 98-70.
The players know that they have a chance to do something special, and something that has never been done in Boise State history in winning the Mountain West Tournament. With a win over Air Force on Saturday, March 4, the Broncos clinched the No. 3 seed and go into the Mountain West Championship tournament with a first round bye.
“We are excited. There is no powerhouse that we are scared of. There is nobody that we can’t beat,” Wacker said.
The No. 1 seed in the regular season, Nevada, completed a sweep of the Broncos this year and would be considered the team to beat. However this team feels confident that they could win in a third matchup with the Wolf pack.
Conversely the No. 2 seed, Colorado State, was a team that Boise State swept in the regular season, including the thrilling buzzer beater at home, and would love to see again in the Mountain West Tournament.
New Mexico is another team looming in a potential tournament match up that the Broncos struggled with this year. The tournament is as open as it has been in years, with experts having no favorite going into Las Vegas.
The team is excited and looking forward to post-season play and sees this as a chance to take advantage of the opportunities ahead of them.
“We just need to go out there and play basketball and play the best we can. Hopefully we can make Boise proud and make the NCAA tournament, it could be something special!” Wacker said.
As the regular season comes to a close, spirits are still high and the team is as confident as ever.