Boise State defeated Air Force 76-52 in an early Saturday game in Taco Bell Arena, where they led for 39 minutes and 44 seconds of the game.
Boise State scored 16 seconds into the game and never gave up the lead. This win breaks up a two-game losing streak for the Broncos.
“These two losses were definitely tough on us, a lot of sleepless nights,” said senior forward Chris Sengfelder. “It was a great feeling to come back to Taco Bell (Arena), play the way we can play and just get the ‘W.’”
After struggling to shoot the 3-point shot in their last game against the University of Nevada, Reno (UNR), Boise State succeeded early against Air Force. In the first half, Boise State made seven of their 14 3-point attempts.
Sophomore guard Justinian Jessup led the Broncos in scoring at half with nine points. He made three of his five 3-point attempts in the first half. Boise State entered the break with a 38-25 lead.
Boise State continued to shoot well from the 3-point line in the second half. They finished the game 14 of 28 from the 3-point line.
“(Air Force) doesn’t want any penetration,” said head coach Leon Rice. “They don’t want to let you get a lot of easy buckets, so you have to hit some (threes).”
Jessup had the best performance from the 3-point line, making five of eight attempts. This comes after only making three shots in the last two games.
“I think I lost a little of my confidence, but my teammates and my coaches had my back,” Jessup said. “I just try to go out there and play with more confidence, and just let it fly.”
Boise State also had one of their best defensive performances of the year, holding Air Force to just 38 percent shooting.
“I think defensively we set a good tone and played really hard,” Rice said. “Then we moved the ball well, got each other shots, made the extra pass and that results in 19 assists and 14 threes.”
The Broncos out-rebounded Air Force 35-25 and had 19 assists compared to Air Force’s 8.
“I think it’s just a concerted effort every single night,” Jessup said. “From June 1, we’ve been preaching that we’re going to crash the glass hard and out-rebound teams this year. It’s just been a lot of effort.”
This win brings the Broncos record to 21-4 overall, 11-4 in conference and just 1.5 games behind UNR.
“I think what makes us special, off the court as well, (is that) we play for each other.” Sengfelder said. “That makes a lot of things easier, especially as you go through slumps.”
With the big lead, Boise State was able to get some players on the court who don’t normally see a lot of playing time.
“They’ve earned it,” Rice said. “I was happy (freshman guard) Cam (Christon) went and hit a shot. He hasn’t hit one for a while, so it was good to see. These guys have been really helping us, and I think they could really help us down the stretch.”
The Broncos still have three games left on the season, including their last home game on March 3.
“We still have a chance to get into the tournament,” Sengfelder said. “We try to control what we can control. We just have to regroup and focus on the next game.”
Boise State’s next game is at Colorado State next Wednesday, Feb 21. The game tips-off at 7 p.m.
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