On March 14, day two of the men’s Mountain West basketball tournament, the entire Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas witnessed to an absolute battle between conference foes, the Nevada Wolf Pack and the Boise State Broncos. The Broncos played their second game of the tournament as the No. 8 seed, and the Wolf Pack had a first-round bye as the No. 1 seed.
In the end, Boise State lost 77-69 despite putting up a fierce fight and leading at halftime. Thus, their Mountain West championship tournament run came to a close.
The Broncos started off hot in the first half by opening up with 4-4 shooting from behind the arc and had a 15-point lead with 7:37 left in the first half. It could not have been a better start for the Broncos, who picked up their first game of the tournament against No. 9 seed Colorado State the night before.
The Wolf Pack would then battle back and make it 5-point game at halftime with the Broncos leading 34-29.
“I knew that you weren’t going to knock out Nevada in the first half. It’s going to take five punches, five punches to put them on the canvas,” said head coach Leon Rice.
The Wolf Pack would feed on the momentum they started in the first half to open the second with a 10-0 run. The Broncos were outrebounded 33-25, giving the Wolf Pack the ability to seize many more opportunities.
Throughout the second half, the Broncos were hanging around until they found a moment to put themselves right back in the game. The Broncos tied it up 62-62 with 4:03 left and they would stay there until there was 2:56 left, when junior guard Marcus Dickinson pulled up with a 3-pointer to put the Broncos within one at 66-65.
That would be the last stand for the Broncos as the Wolf Pack closed the game on an 11-4 run to leave with a 77-69 win, advancing to the semifinals.
“It was great to come out and battle with these guys one last time,” said senior center Zach Haney.
Haney and senior forward David Wacker were the two seniors who ended their seasons in Las Vegas on Thursday afternoon.
“Usually you get done with the season just exhausted and worn out. But I don’t think I’ve ever been more excited. Let’s start tomorrow. Let’s go,” Rice said.
Even though the Broncos’ 2018-19 season ended with Thursday’s loss, the Broncos will be back next year with four returning starters, a recruit, Raymond Dennis from Oswego, IL, and two transfers from the PAC 12 Conference; junior Forward Abu Kigab from the University of Oregon and sophomore Guard Emmanuel Akot from the University of Arizona.