The Broncos can expect to get the best game from each of their opponents, just as they do in football. That is a sign that the talent of the Boise State basketball team is no longer a secret. On this day, the players on Air Force played the game of their lives, and it forced Boise State to find another level. Luckily for Coach Leon Rice's team, they did.
Nick Duncan picked a great game to break out of a slump, connecting on his first five three-point shots and finishing 6-8 for a career high 20 points. And Air Force did not have an answer for Derrick Marks down the stretch, as Boise State's second half machine poured in 28 points on 10-of-17 shooting. James Webb III added 10 points while Igor Hadziomerivic contributed nine.
Marek Olesinki had 24 points to lead the Falcons, while Hayden Graham had 14 and Justin Hammonds 10.
Air Force lost at home to UC Davis 81-75 earlier in the year, but their prayers were answered on this day, and they were able to make a game of it. After spotting Boise State a 6-0 lead, the Falcons did their best Harvard imitation, using backdoor plays to frustrate the Broncos and take a 27-17 lead on a Hammonds layup with 7:30 remaining in the opening half.
Boise State, which has made a concerted effort to improve their defense the past two seasons, would have to do just that if they wanted to win. The Bronco defense found another gear--the gimme layups and open jumpers began to disappear. Behind three-pointers by Duncan and Marks and a long-range jumper by Marks, Boise State cut the lead to 31-30 at the break.
After a Marks three-pointer to open the scoring in the second half, Boise State never trailed. Marks was unstoppable during one stretch, hitting two baskets and a three-pointer in the span of one minute to extend the Bronco lead to 62-54.
Air Force called a time out, but it didn't matter. Three-pointers by Hadziomerivic, Marks and Webb kept the home team at bay, and all it took from there was four free throws by Marks to preserve Boise State's fourth consecutive victory.
Air Force shot a sizzling 54.9% (28-51) to stay in the game. But Coach Rice found hot hands throughout his lineup, as the Broncos hit 57.8% (26-45). Boise State consistently burned the Falcons with incredible 14-22 three-point shooting 63.6%).
After starting Mountain West Conference play 0-3 after the injury to senior star Anthony Drmic, the new-look Broncos are all of a sudden back in the thick of the league race at 4-3, and Boise State advanced to 14-6 overall. Air Force fell to 1-7 in league and 8-11 overall.
Boise State can climb the conference ladder a bit more if they can pull off an upset Tuesday at home against Colorado State.