The Boise State men’s basketball team showed a display of grit growth as they topped Fresno State 63-53 at ExtraMile Arena on Jan. 24.
“Well,” head coach Leon Rice said. “Sometimes, you have to win ugly.”
That is exactly what it was. Ugly.
The first half was surprisingly slow and sloppy on all aspects of the Broncos’ performance.
Boise State had an unprecedented amount of turnovers in the half (15) and missed field goal attempts (9-20), allowing Fresno State a 7-0 run to open up the contest.
The scoring streak was finally broken with a hook shot by sophomore forward Tyson Degenhart.
The Broncos’ dry spell didn’t end there. Fresno State went on to score another four points to put them up 11-2.
Despite efforts by senior guard Max Rice and fifth-year point guard Marcus Shaver Jr. to close the Bulldogs’ lead, unforced errors and missed attempts kept the Broncos at arms length from regaining control.
Fifth-year forward Naje Smith and Max Rice helped lead a much deprived Bronco squad down the stretch, accounting for more than half of the Broncos first half offense.
The Broncos wrapped up the half the same way they started it, sloppy.
With three turnovers to end the first half, the Broncos were put in an inadequate position to close it out.
One of the highest stats on the half … turnovers.
Boise State had an astronomical 15 turnovers, five coming from Max Rice.
“Yeah, I’ll take responsibility on that one,” Max Rice said joking about his career high in turnovers. “Watched too much Patrick Mahomes this weekend.”
Despite the underwhelming Bronco performance, unforced errors and miscommunication on the floor, the Broncos only trailed the Bulldogs by two points.
“Leon said it was the worst half of the season,” Max Rice said.
Both teams came out hot to start the second half. A more physical, clean and competitive game was on display at ExtraMile.
The Broncos were able to slowly climb their way back into the game and regain control with a 31-27 lead and less than 15 minutes remaining.
The four-point lead was quickly widened to nine after Degenhart’s deep three and clean layup.
Though the Broncos showed struggle in their turnovers and ability to space out the floor in the second half, the Broncos never looked back.
Two back-to-back threes by Junior guard Chibuzo Agbo helped to solidify the Bronco lead.
To end the game, Max Rice displayed his talents with a deep three with less than a minute remaining.
“We overpowered them in the second half,” Max Rice said. “Our defense won this game tonight.”
The Broncos were led by Shavers’ 16 points, Smith’s six rebounds and the infamous seven turnovers by Max Rice.
Boise State went 48.9% from the field despite the slow start and managed to notch 53.8% from deep.
Those in attendance at Extra Mile were in for a wild ride from start to finish.
Even though the Fresno State and Boise State rivalry is primarily in football, Bronco fans seem to despise Fresno State in every facet.
The more than 9,000-attendee crowd was dominant and loud throughout the entire game, giving the Broncos energy to feed off of.
“Every time we are in the ExtraMile, we want to show up and show out for our fans,” Agbo said.
As the Broncos strive to reclaim the top seed in the Mountain West division, the remainder of their schedule are all seemingly must-win matchups.