Broncos enter NIT 'Sweet 16'

In front of their largest 'home' crowd of the season, (10,153), and in an arena they'd never played in before, the Boise State Broncos shook off a very determined and talented University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee Panther squad that fought back to within 1, after being down 12 at the half.<br><br>Simply put, the Boise State Broncos refused to let their season end.

After watching their 14 point lead disappear in a scoring drought that lasted 4 1/2 minutes, Bryan Defares (12 points), Aaron Haynes (20 points) and Jason Ellis (13 points) showed just how valuable they are in the Bronco's 73-70 win over the Panthers.

Led by Aaron Haynes who had a double/double, and Jason Ellis who also had a double/double, the Broncos started the game out fast, leading at the half 44-32 on a last-second shot by Defares that bounced off the front of the rim and somehow defied gravity and bounced up and over for a 3 point shot.

That motivation lasted for the first 9 minutes of the 2nd half, but then began a scoring drought that saw the Panthers score 12 straight as the Broncos missed layup after layup and usually stalwart jump-shooters began producing more bricks than a industrial sized kiln.

Season-leading scorer Jermaine Blackburn had an off night and finished with only 2 points, those coming on a dunk. Other than that shot, he was 0-7. However, the Big 3 of Haynes, Defares, and Ellis stepped up their games, just like the Broncos have done all season when one player has had an off night. Peppered between big shots from those 3 were crucial baskets by Franco Harris (3-5 9 points), Eric Lane (3-5 7 points), and Coby Karl (2-7 8 points).

Ironically, it was Coby Karl who may have sunk the final death blow to his former 'hometown' team that didn't recruit him. Leading by 1 with 13 seconds left, Karl stepped to the line and calmly sunk 2 free-throws that touched nothing but nylon. Those points gave the Broncos their final margin of victory.

The Broncos now travel into unfamiliar territory, as they prepare to enter the 2nd week of Post-Season play for just the second time in Boise State history. (The first was also in the NIT tournament.)

The Broncos will now travel, ironically enough, to Marquette University in Milwaukee, this coming Tuesday, (March 23rd) for a game that will reportedly be televised live on either ESPN or ESPN2. The Broncos are now only 2 wins away from playing in the NIT Final 4 in New York's Madison Square Garden.

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