Boise State Men’s Basketball made its return to Boise on Feb. 11 and 13 in a two-game matchup against UNLV. The game on Feb. 11 resulted in a win 78-66 and an all-around effort from the Broncos. During game two on Feb. 13, the Broncos celebrated a big program victory with another win 61-59.
The Bronco sideline started the evening of game one with dancing and loud cheering. Pumping up the 11 fans in the stands of ExtraMile Arena.
On Feb. 1, Boise State Athletics announced in an emailed press release that a limited number of fans and family members would be allowed to attend basketball games and gymnastics meets inside ExtraMile Arena. The requirement for fans was to produce a negative COVID-19 test in order to enter the arena and wear a mask throughout the game.
“It was really good to be back home, our guys love playing here,” said Head Coach Leon Rice. “I thought the crowd was terrific. It really helped us tonight.”
Guard Derrick Alston Jr. scored the first points of the night with back-to-back jumpers. The first five minutes were low scoring for both teams.
The second Bronco to score was center Lukas Milner who was also the first sub of the night. He was fouled below the basket and received two free throws both of which he made.
Forward Mladen Armus scored four points on back-to-back offensive rebounds.
Halfway into the first half, guard Emmanuel Akot had a fast break to a dunk. The small crowd of 11 fans and the Boise State sideline went wild.
Guard Marcus Shaver Jr. shot a 3-pointer with a couple of minutes left on the clock. His mom who was sitting in the stands cheered as the ball went through the net.
After halftime, the Broncos came out running with forward Abu Kigab and guard RayJ Dennis’s 3-pointers. This pushed the Broncos over the Rebels by 14 points.
Hot on the heels of Kigab and Dennis, guard Devonaire Doutrive also shot a 3-pointer. Minutes later, he scored off of two jumpers.
Closing out the first game of the series, Akot who received player of the game put up two points to lead his team to victory over the Rebels.
“I had an up and down season before last week, and my teammates and my coaches have done a great job at just giving me confidence,” Akot said when asked about his performance. “I have to give thanks to my coaches and my teammates.”
The Broncos had a hot start to their second game against the Rebels on Feb. 13. Armus fired his team up by being the first to score with a jumper.
Shortly after him, Akot and Altson scored 3-pointers, this brought the Broncos ahead of the Rebels early in the first half.
A Bronco that saw a lot more time during Saturday’s game was Doutrive. In the middle of the first half, he scored back-to-back jumpers, one of which was off a fastbreak assisted by Akot.
While the clock winded down to halftime, Doutrive scored a 3-pointer, but the Rebels came back to close out the half, leading by one point.
Coming out of halftime, Altson shot a 3-pointer, but the Broncos and the Rebels continued to play aggressively on both ends of the court. The teams were neck-and-neck for a majority of the half when it came to points.
It wasn’t until Altson scored a 3-pointer off a fastbreak that the Broncos began to step on the gas. Although the crowd of fans inside ExtraMile Arena was small, everyone went wild for Alston’s play.
“Coming from myself and I think everybody in the locker room we expect to win every single game,” Alston said. “I think we just worked really hard and credit a lot to UNLV. They really gave us a lot of trouble, and we were able to just get timely stops and timely buckets and we were able to pull it out.”
As UNLV closed the gap between them and Boise State, Alston who made 27 points overall, scored his sixth 3-pointer of the night, but the Broncos were still behind.
It came down to the final seconds for the Broncos to take the lead with Doutrive scoring the game-winning shot.
The nail-biting game resulted in a Bronco victory. This win was Coach Rice’s 214th as he now holds the record for most wins in program history.
After the game, the team drenched Coach Rice with water in the locker room as a celebration of this achievement. A video of everyone who has been a part of Coach Rice’s journey was posted on Twitter in honor of his win.
“I wanted to build a program where not only the guys I’ve coached for the last 11 years, but all the way back that they take pride in it and they get excited about it,” Rice said. “Once a Bronco, always a Bronco. It was really special and was a neat deal, humbling and to be able to get to stay here as long as I have and get to coach the guys I get to coach, and work with the guys that I get to work with every day. It’s pretty awesome.”
Next on the Broncos’ schedule are the Aggies from Utah State University on Feb. 17 and Feb. 19 at ExtraMile Arena.