It takes a village…
With Mountain West Player of the Year Derrick Marks plagued with first-half foul trouble, Boise State used a complete team effort in defeating Air Force 80-68 Thursday afternoon in the quarterfinals of the Mountain West tournament.
Four Broncos, led by Nick Duncan’s 23, scored in double figures to aid the Broncos. Marks ended with 13, all in the second-half, while Rob Heyer and Igor Hadziomerovic scored 11 each.
Duncan, who had seven 3’s, and players like Mikey Thompson (six first-half points) and Chandler Hutchison (6 points, 6 rebounds, 3 assists, and 1 steal) kept the Broncos on top of things through the first 35 minutes of the game.
“If we weren’t deep, we don’t win it,” said Coach Leon Rice to Bob Behler after the game.
Defensive pressure by the Broncos staked them to an early 17-8 lead. Boise State forced 8 turnovers and held Air Force to five field goal attempts in the first nine minutes.
Then foul trouble hurt the Broncos, as three players picked up two first-half fouls. Marks only played six minutes in the half due to his two fouls. Joining Marks on the bench were Hadziomerovic and David Wacker.
Two free throws by Zach Kocur with 5:25 left in the half tied the game at 22. Kocur led the Falcons with 11 first-half points, but was held to two in the second-half.
In what would later become a theme in the game, Duncan responded with a three. The Broncos held the lead the rest of the half and led 32-28 at halftime.
Marks picked up his first basket as the second-half started, beginning a 13-2 run to start the half for the Broncos. All five starters scored during the run and the Broncos found themselves up by 15.
The Falcons would not go away. They shot 55% on the game and would get the lead down to eight on multiple occasions. Duncan and Heyer (who didn’t miss a shot on the game) would hit a three to take that lead back to double digits.
The Falcons, taking advantage of some Boise State misses, got within five at 67-62 on a Justin Hammonds steal and layup with 5:22 remaining. James Webb III (8 points, 5 rebounds) was whistled for his fourth foul on a questionable blocking foul and Hammonds had a chance to get the Falcons within four.
Hammonds missed his free throw and Boise State’s seniors took advantage. Marks and Hadziomerovic scored the Broncos last 13 points, including 7 of 8 from the free throw line. On the game, the Broncos made 18-22 (81.8%) from the free throw line.Marks, despite the tough first half, contributed 5 assists and 5 rebounds.
Marek Olesinksi led the Falcons with 14 points.
The Broncos knocked down twelve 3’s and improved to 19-4 on the year when making more than eight 3-pointers and picked up their 25th win overall. That ties a school record for most wins in a single season.
The Broncos will face the winner of the Utah State/Wyoming game at 7 pm (MST) on Friday night for a right to play for the Mountain West tourney championship.