The Aztecs were looking to clinch the outright Mountain West Conference Title on Tuesday Night in Boise, but sadly that didn’t happen. The Broncos clamped down on defense and used a 14-0 run to close out the game, beating the Aztecs 66-60 in-front of a sold-out senior night crowd.
On the night, the Aztecs shot 43.1% (22-51) from the field and 36.8% (7-19) from beyond the arc. While, Boise State shot the ball only a little bit better at 44.2% (23 -52) from the field and 40.9% (9-22) from three.
The player of the game was undoubtedly Max Rice who scored a game-high 26 points. He shot 9-16 from the field, an outstanding 5-8 from three-point range, and knocked down 3 out of 4 free throw attempts.
Throughout the game Rice seemed unstoppable. He made all of his buckets from almost every conceivable area on the court. But it was from deep where he was especially most deadly. Despite some stellar Aztec defense played, Rice was able to take over at the most crucial moments of the game.
All of this to say, there were also some fortunate bounces of the basketball that went Boise’s way. A late three with about 2:44 left was a bank shot high off the glass. Rice also made a layup late in the first half, as he was falling to the ground. It was simply Max Rice’s night.
Another Boise State great performance was Tyson Degenhart. The second-leading scorer for Boise with 14 points, Degenhart has been BSU’s leading scorer in the season and had a very efficient outing.
He made 6 out of his 9 shots and also knocked down a three-pointer. Degenhart, was the most efficient in the post when he used his 240-pound frame to often get in great position against the Aztecs.
Even in the loss, the Aztecs did have some outstanding performances of their own. Matt Bradley had another good outing leading the Aztecs in points with 16. Bradley shot 40% (6-15) from the field, 33% (2-6) from three, and made both of his free throws.
This wasn’t all without some difficulty for Bradley, who at times found it tough to get shots in the paint. He still managed to score by showing off his jump shot at times—especially in the mid-range game.
Through out the game he made about 3 step-back jump shots despite being fully contested. Bradley also grabbed 6 rebounds which curiously led the team. He used his 220-pound body to box out defenders, and always looked to push the offense.
The other Aztec who scored in double figures was Micah Parrish. Off the bench, Parrish scored 11 points and made 50% of his shots, including 2-3 from beyond the arc.
Whenever the Aztecs needed a big shot Parrish was the go to guy to knock it down. The one downside was that perhaps he didn’t shoot the ball enough.
The biggest factor in the loss for the Aztecs were all the turnovers. In the first half, SDSU were the ones forcing Boise to give up the ball on offense. But in the second half, the roles reversed and it was the Aztecs who got sloppy and committed nine turnovers of their own.
The most critical were the three turnovers in the last three minutes of the game. To that result, the Broncos went on a 14-0 run to close the door on the Aztecs sole championship hopes this night.
The most puzzling aspect of this letdown in Idaho was the Aztecs difficulty rebounding the ball. Boise cleaned up on the boards over the Aztecs by an 11 count, 24-35. In doing so, this always kept the Broncos not too far behind in the game.
With each of their 14 offensive rebounds leading to second-chance opportunities, the composure of the teams’ spirit visibly began to slip and the Bronco crowd feasted on every climactic moment.
In the end, in order for the Aztecs to have the kind of Mountain West and NCAA tournament they aspire to, the mental lapses of not being sure-handed in the games final moments must be put under control. Until then, the madness of March may just consume them sooner than they all hope.
The next game will be the last regular season game for the Aztecs. It will also be Senior Day as the Aztecs host the University of Wyoming Cowboys (9-20,4-13) at 7:00 pm. The game is broadcasted on CBS Sports Network.
1) Aztecs started going into a “prevent offense” with 8 minutes to go
2) Boise straight out hustled us at the end. Some of the bounces for just bad luck, but it just seemed like they wanted it more.