The groans were not audible on Wednesday night — unless it involved bad calls — but with each missed three or shot in the key by the Boise State Broncos, they were visibly exchanged between fans.
Here we go again.
The stage had been set for a heated battle between the top two teams on the manufactured day of love. An electric crowd — if not smaller than the recent weeks but just as loud — was ready to witness the Boise State Broncos take down the 24th-ranked Nevada Wolf Pack.
For the second time this season, the Broncos went cold from deep against Nevada. The game was lost and with it, likely any chance Boise State had in making the NCAA tournament as an at-large bid.
Without perseverance, talent is a barren bed.- Welsh proverb
The Broncos held an advantage in nearly every statistical category. They outrebounded the Wolf Pack by four, including a 13-7 edge on the offensive glass. Chris Sengfelder had ten rebounds, with most of those coming on the offensive end.
Boise State shot better at the free throw line, had five steals to Nevada’s two, blocked six shots, and had one more assist than the Wolf Pack (11-10). Even the turnovers were down, with Boise State committing only eight.
Except two of those happened at inopportune times. A travel. A five-second violation with time winding down. Mental mistakes that should not be made this late in the season.
A disappearing three-ball doesn’t help for a team with fully capable shooters. Justinian Jessup hit a three-pointer early in the game, aided by the love of a generous rim. Maybe this was going to be the game the Broncos found their stroke again.
Instead, Boise State was saddled with a 5-26 game behind the arc, going a combined 8-47 against Nevada in two games so far this season.
If that number bumps up to 12-47, the Broncos win at least one or even both of the games against Nevada.
And we’re having an entirely different conversation today.
So close yet so far away
The Boise State Broncos are still trying to get over the big game hurdle; a signature win the program needs.
That’s not to say this very talented team hasn’t come up big in 2017-18. A victory over a 22-win Loyola of Chicago team and a road win over 17-win Oregon have been two highlights.
Last second wins — from Oregon to last week against New Mexico — had this team stamped for something special.
Then a bump-in-the-night loss to Utah State and the Valentine’s Day heartbreak to Nevada happened, leaving the Broncos likely on the outside looking in.
Were the losses for Boise State a harbinger of things to come? Or were they minor hiccups that happen to teams this time of year?
We hope for the latter.
The effort, hustle, and competitiveness were on full display against Nevada. This team has the ability to achieve great things, using those three qualities as a basis for success.
No matter the case, it’s likely Mountain West Conference tournament title or bust for the Boise State Broncos.
The loss isn’t the end of the world, but for Chandler Hutchison and company, the road to the NCAA tournament just got tougher.
But what’s the fun in success without a little adversity? The Broncos have the skills to succeed. Now, it’s time to take them up a notch.
It’s what you learn after you know it all that counts.– John Wooden