Boise State scored 11 points in a row to grab a 13-point lead and then held on to down Hawai'i 54-49 tonight in a Western Athletic Conference basketball tilt at Taco Bell Arena. The win was the Broncos' sixth in a row and kept them in a first place tie with Utah State.
Locked in a tight game with three and a half minutes remaining in the first half, Anthony Thomas stole a pass and hit the ensuing layup to give Coach Greg Graham's team a 26-23 lead. Three pointers by Paul Newman and La'Shard Anderson propelled Boise State to a 33-23 lead as the teams headed into the locker room.
The Broncos defense extended Hawai'i's scoreless streak to six and a half minutes until a free throw by Petris Balocka made it 35-24. The Rainbow Warriors weren't done, though, thanks mostly to points awarded at the foul line. Hawai'i hit nine free throws in the next six minutes to pull within two at 40-38 and then a trey by Lasha Parghalava narrowed the gap to 42-41. Another three pointer by Roderick Flemings their first lead of the contest with 6:52 left at 44-43.
Kareem Nitoto's free throw tied the game at 47 but Bronco guard Anthony Thomas hit a huge three with 2:15 left and the Broncos were never headed after that.
Thomas paced Boise State with 13 points and four steals while Noonan hit 10 and grabbed seven rebounds. Forward Ike Okoye swatted away four Hawai'i shots to protect the Bronco interior. As good as Okoye's inside game was, he still fell three blocks shy of the single game record of seven set by Trever Tillman in 1997. Nevertheless, the effort gave Okoye 32 blocks on the season, just six shy of eighth place in Bronco history. Tillman is tied for 8th in two different seasons (1997-98 and 2000-01), joined by legendary Tanoka Beard (1992-93) and high-flying Billy Fikes (91-92).
Boise State came into the game 20th in the country in field goal percentage, hitting 48.5% of their shots but this one was of the ugly fashion. Neither team could shoot tonight as the Broncos were just 18-52 (34.6%) and Hawai'i was even worse at 33.3% (16-48).
With the win, Boise State advanced to 12-3 overall and 3-0 in the WAC. Hawai'i slipped to 9-7 and just 1-3 in league play. The Broncos get a chance to prove they're for real with games at Nevada and Utah State next week.