Associated Press

Boise State Broncos Hold Off the Colorado State Rams for 84-80 Win

The Broncos grabbed a 16-point lead only to watch it evaporate down to 2.

BOISE, Idaho--Mikey Thompson scored on a putback and Anthony Drmic sank two free throws in the final twelve seconds and Boise State survived torrid shooting from Colorado State to score an 84-80 win last night in Taco Bell Arena.  It was the Mountain West Conference opener for both teams.

“It’s a new year," said Thompson.  The start of conference you have to step up and make big plays to win games.  It came right to me.  I guess you could say it was a lucky play. I caught it and was able to make a big play.”

Coach Leon Rice's Broncos seemed in command for most of the game and stretched their lead to 16 (29-13) on a three-pointer by Thompson with 8:25 left in the first half.  A free throw by Zach Haney matched that lead at 37-21 with 4:17 remaining and a jumper from Thompson gave the Broncos a 39-23 lead moments later.  Boise State went into the locker room up 42-28.

''That's a really good team and why they were picked to do so well in the conference,'' Colorado State coach Larry Eustachy said. ''I also knew they have a tendency to let teams back in it. I've had teams just like that where they kind of get bored and let teams back in."

Sometimes the sincerest criticism comes from the opposition, and Eustachy seemed to be spot on with his comment.  While the Broncos opened the second half 0-5, CSU used back-to-back three-pointers from Antwan Scott and Joe De Ciman and a layup by Tiel Daniels to cut the margin to 42-36.

The Rams got within five on a free throw from Drmic, but consecutive treys from James Webb III put Boise State up 57-45 with 13:11 left.

Colorado State displayed a dazzling shooting exhibition (63% in the second half) to make late-game Bronco heroics necessary.  De Ciman, John Gillon and Fred Richardson III drilled three-pointers on consecutive possessions and it was anyone's game at 59-54.  

A three-point play by Thompson extended the lead to 64-54 and another Thompson layup following a sensational pass from Drmic gave Boise State a 66-56 lead with 9:04 left.

But CSU would not go away.  Scott hit two free throws and another three-pointer to cut the lead to four at 69-65.  After a missed dunk by Webb, Daniels fed Richardson for a layup and the Rams trailed 69-67 with 6:57 remaining.  

Webb, who took to the air from the free-throw line in an attempt to make a thunder dunk, instead mistimed his jump and the ball hit the rim and bounced 20 feet in the air.  Webb cut his thumb on the play, and although it did not appear to affect his shooting, he had to stop several times to get the thumb worked on and the arm iced before resuming play.

The Broncos responded with a trey from Webb and a layup by Drmic, but lost Nick Duncan with his fifth foul on the next possession.  

Thompson took charge down the stretch, knifing his way through the Ram defense for a layup with 3:09 left that put Boise State ahead 76-69.  His next shot was blocked by Daniels, and De Ciman heated up again with two long three-pointers to again cut the Bronco lead to two at 76-74.  

Webb made a key steal with 1:45 left which resulted in two free throws, but Richardson came back with a drive to the hoop to make it 78-76.  After the two teams traded turnovers, Chandler Hutchison hit a layup with 46 seconds left to give Boise State an 80-76 lead.

J.D. Paige broke free for a dunk on CSU's next possession with 38 seconds left.  Thompson then drove through the key for a runner that missed, but Webb tipped the ball to Thompson, who gathered it in and tossed it back up for what proved to be the game-winner.  Paige hit a jumper with three seconds left before Drmic iced the win with two free throws. 

"I’m proud of our guys, everything didn’t go right and we didn’t drop our heads," Rice said. We kept plugging away and got the win.”

Webb III had 28 points, nine rebounds, three steals and two blocks as Boise State (10-4) won their 16th straight game at home.  The win matched the second-longest streak in school history and the longest in Rice's six-year tenure.  The Broncos won 19 straight between 1997 and 1999, and also posted 16 straight home victories from January, 1994 to January of 1995.  Webb has scored 20 or more points in three consecutive games for the first time in his Boise State career.

“It’s hard to take him out of any games, at any moment," Rice said.  "He played 38 minutes tonight and I felt like I sat him a long time.  He is just doing a great job making so many plays everywhere.  He rebounds the ball, he impacts the game defensively, he is a good passer, and he is making shots and timely shots.  He is rounding out into a terrific basketball player.”

Drmic finished with 21 points while Thompson played one of the best games of his four-year career with 18 points, a career high nine assists, six rebounds, three steals and no turnovers.  

Webb complimented Thompson on his performance:  “It’s real big.  People are going to key in on Drmic, they are going to key in on guys like me; but when he is penetrating, getting to the paint and getting easy layups it just makes everything easier on us.”

Drmic finished the night 7-of-16 shooting to pass Abe Jackson (1998-2002) for fourth place in career field goals at Boise State, and with 556, Drmic is behind only Steve Connor (771 from 1974-78), Tanoka Beard (676 from 1989-1993) and Derrick Marks (669 from 2011-15).  (See chart at the bottom of this article.)

Drmic is now fifth in career free throws with 363 after a 4-for-5 night put him ahead of former Bronco great Chris Childs (1985-89).  Drmic now has 109 career starts, fourth all-time behind Childs (118) and Coby Karl and Jason Ellis (each with 111 from 2003-07).

Boise State scored 29 points off 16 Ram turnovers and registered 16 assists as a team.  The Broncos are 38-1 in the last five seasons when recording at least 15 assists.

Scott led Colorado State (8-6) with 24 points while De Ciman finished with 22.  CSU connected on 8-of-14 from three-point range in the second half to lead the comeback attempt.  The Rams played without leading scorer Gian Clavell, who is out for the season with a torn shoulder and a broken left hand.

Eustachy was pleased with the effort of his team:

     I thought we showed terrific character just in one night by changing our personality, and decided to do it by defending, rebounding and taking care of the ball. I thought you saw a huge difference from the first half to the second half, and the score indicated it. So unfortunately we didn’t win the game but give Boise State a ton of credit – they have a ton of experience, they are extremely well coached, they know how to win games. And obviously I thought Thompson took the game over at the end. Stole the out of bounds pass, went by one of our players and missed the layup but got it back and put it in.

Colorado State had held its three previous opponents under 62 points until last night's game, but the Broncos surpassed the 80-point barrier for the sixth time this season.  Boise State won its seventh straight game since losing to #7 Arizona in November.

The Broncos travel to Utah State Tuesday night while the Rams host UNLV Wednesday night.

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Career Field Goals:

1.    771 Steve Connor (1974-1978)

2.    676 Tanoka Beard (1989-1993)

3.    669 Derrick Marks (2011-2015)

4.    556 Anthony Drmic (2011-current)

5.    549 Abe Jackson (1998-2002)

5.    540 Chris Childs (1985-1989)

7.    535 Roberto Bergersen (1996-1999)

8.    517 Ron Austin (1968-1971)

9.    500 Coby Karl (2003-2007)

10.  489 Vince Hinchen (1981-1984)

11.  445 Pat Hoke (1972-1976)

12.  439 John Coker (1991-1995)

13.  414 Reggie Larry (2006-2008)

14.  409 Ryan Watkins (2010-2014)

15.  406 Danny Jones (1975-1978)

16.  386 Ron Austin (1968-1971)

17.  373 Eric Lane (2003-2007)

18.  360 Trent Johnson (1975-1978)

19.  359 Arnell Jones (1986-1988)

Career Free Throws:

1.    592 Tanoka Beard (1989-1993)

2.    458 Derrick Marks (2011-2015)

3.    432 Coby Karl (2003-2007)

4.    385 Steve Connor (1974-1978)

5.    363 Anthony Drmic (2011-current)  

6.    359 Chris Childs (1985-1989)

7.    352 Ron Austin (1968-1971)

8.    346 Greg Bunn (1970-1973)

9.    322 Gerry Washington (1995-1999)

10.  319 Abe Jackson (1998-2002)

11.  313 Bryan Defares (2000-2004)

12.  275 Pat Hoke (1972-1976)

13.  265 Vince Hinchen (1981-1984)

14.  257 Danny Jones (1974-1978)

15.  249 Arnell Jones (1986-1988)

Games Started, Career:

1.    118 Chris Childs (1985-1989)

2.    111 Coby Karl (2003-2007)

2.    111 Jason Ellis (2003-2007)

4.    109 Anthony Drmic (2011-current)  

5.    108 Steve Connor (1974-1978)

5.    108 Trent Johnson (1974-1978)

7.    107 Derrick Marks (2011-2015)

8.    106 Tanoka Beard (1989-1993)

9.    105 Joe Skiffer (1999-2004)

10.  104 Ryan Watkins (2010-2014)

11.  101 Gerry Washington (1995-1999)

12.    95 Anthony Thomas (2006-2010)

13.    94 Abe Jackson (1998-2002)

14.    87 Bruce Bolden (1981-1985)

15.    84 Roberto Bergersen (1996-1999)

16.    82 Mike Tolman (1992-1993/1995-1998)

17.    74 J.D. Huleen (1993-1997)


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