Halfway through the second half on Saturday, it looked like the Boise State Broncos were going to ride a stellar performance on defense to victory.
Too bad their offense never woke up and Fresno State’s did.
The Bulldogs scored 22 points over the last seven minutes, holding Boise State to 12, as the Broncos fell 63-53 late Saturday afternoon.
Boise State shot 41.2 percent (21-51) from the field, including knocking down only 4-21 from beyond the arc.
Fresno State was only slightly better in hitting on 44.2 percent of their shot attempts. The Bulldogs hit on 7 of their 23 three-point attempts but were five of eight in the second half.
Each team had 16 turnovers and Boise State was minus eight (33-25) on the boards.
Juniors Alex Hobbs and Justinian Jessup each had 15 points to pace the Broncos.
The first-half — much like most of the game — was an affair between the team’s defenses.
Teams exchanged misses and buckets, with nine lead changes taking place in the first 20 minutes. Leads stayed between two and three points, with the Bulldogs ahead 18-16 with 3:34 left in the half.
Hobbs finally knocked down the Broncos first three-pointer of the game at the 3:11 mark. Boise State had missed their first eight attempts from behind the arc.
Another Hobbs jumper and Jessup’s first three gave the Broncos a 24-20 lead. The lead grew to six after Pat Dembley scored off of a goaltending call against Fresno State.
Boise State had a 28-22 lead at the half. The defense of the Broncos kept Fresno State’s Deshon Taylor and Braxton Huggins — who combined were averaging 36.1 ppg — to zero points on 0-5 shooting in the half.
A Zach Haney dunk off a pass from Jessup on the first possession of the second half gave the Broncos a 30-22 lead. It was Boise State’s largest lead, one that would slowly be chipped away.
A Nate Grimes free throw pulled Fresno State within two at 30-28. Jessup made a three at the 17:37 mark to put Boise State back up by five.
It would be the Broncos last field goal until the 10:31 mark on a layup by Jessup.
During these seven minutes without a field goal, Taylor would score his first points of the game. New Williams tied it up for Fresno State with 11:56 to play.
From there, the teams exchanged buckets, with Boise State never regaining the lead. After Hobbs tied it up at 41, Fresno State took control.
Taylor, Williams, and Huggins (twice) would all hit threes down the stretch and the Bulldogs won going away.
Fresno State entered the game as one of the top perimeter defenses in the conference. While their run-and-jump halfcourt defense gave Boise State trouble, the Broncos had plenty of good looks that just didn’t fall.
Taylor led the Bulldogs with 15 points. Williams had 14 while Grimes added 7 with a game-high 8 rebounds.
The Broncos stayed right under their conference average of allowing opponents 63.8 points per game. Until the offense can counterbalance that — like in their victory over San Diego State — we’re going to see a lot of defensive battles.
Boise State has a few days to prep for the Air Force Falcons (7-10, 2-3). Tip-off is set for 7 pm (MT) on 1/22 at Air Force.