Boise State basketball: What else can happen?

Boise State went almost 6½ minutes without a field goal down the stretch Wednesday night at Fresno State. In fact, the Broncos made only four buckets in the final 11 minutes of the game. So it was a minor miracle that they were still able to take a 61-59 lead with 42 seconds remaining. But the close-game blues struck again, as Boise State lost to the Bulldogs 65-63, its sixth defeat in seven games decided by one possession this season. Don’t blame Alex Hobbs, who again was the rock offensively for the Broncos, scoring 18 points. But Fresno State otherwise did yeoman’s defensive work versus the most accurate team in the Mountain West, holding Boise State to 37 percent shooting and a 3-for-17 showing from three-point range.

It was a heartbreaking result for Boise State. With the rebuilding Broncos trying to hang in as hopes for a first-round bye in the Mountain West fade, they stayed with one of the top teams in the conference this season. The 2018-19 squad is not supposed to be able to do that type of thing on the road. This team is close, but there’s no cigar. That’s why the big picture has to stay in frame. Surround Hobbs with Justinian Jessup, Marcus Dickinson and a one-year-older Derrick Alston next season—plus Boise State’s legion of redshirts and transfers, and there’s plenty of room for optimism. Of course, coach Leon Rice is still all about the rest of this season. “Let’s keep getting better the next 30 days and see what happens,” said Rice on the Learfield/IMG College post game show.

The missing link? Well, I don’t know if Alston was actually too confident coming off his career-high 33 points against San Jose State, but he was very quiet Wednesday night at Save Mart Center. More often than not Alston forced the issue and took contested shots, and he ended up with two points on 1-for-8 shooting. Maybe after he has a Chandler Hutchison-type game, Alston feels pressure to be like Hutch every time out. The Bulldogs also had a handle on Alston last month in Taco Bell Arena. He scored just four points, getting all of them from the free throw line while going 0-for-6 from the field. Alston is just a sophomore. The consistency will come.

NAILING DOWN NO. 20

Playing without Riley Lupfer, the Boise State women saw Braydey Hodgins step up again. Hodgins scored 21 points in an 83-76 win over Fresno State Wednesday night in Taco Bell Arena. The Broncos’ 20th victory of the season didn’t have to be that close—they saw a 19-point fourth quarter lead wither down to two with 42 seconds left before closing it out at the free throw line. Even with Lupfer sidelined, coach Gordy Presnell was able to play 10 players, and all 10 scored. Boise State was not able to neutralize Mountain West scoring leader Candace White, who put up 24 points, 22 of them in the second half. But the Broncos were outstanding on the glass, outrebounding the Bulldogs by 10 and pulling down 15 offensive boards.

BORAH REUNION AT JENNY CRAIG PAVILION

Two former Borah High teammates get reacquainted on Valentine’s Day tonight, as San Diego’s Isaiah Wright and BYU’s Rylan Bergersen meet up when the Toreros host the Cougars. Wright, who transferred to USD 2½ years ago after playing his first two seasons at Utah, has found his groove again of late. He’s scored at least 14 points in four straight games and is shooting 53 percent over that stretch. For the season, Wright is averaging 38 minutes and 13.4 points per game. A recent story in the San Diego Union-Tribune chronicled Wright’s journey, which started with hearing problems as a kindergartner. It was found that his hearing was just 30 percent of average, spurring multiple operations over a two-year span. Basketball became his thing, and he ended up as the 2014 Idaho Gatorade Player of the Year with the Lions.

Bergersen has played in 24 games for BYU this season and has averaged 18 minutes and 2.5 points per game. Both players are sons of former Boise State Broncos—Archie Wright and Roberto Bergersen, one of BSU’s all-time greats. Also at BYU, former Rocky Mountain star Kolby Lee is getting a little bit of floor time as a true freshman, appearing in 15 games and averaging 1.5 points.

ROAMING THE RUNNING BACKS STABLE

A week ago we were recapping National Letter of Intent Day at Boise State. The news didn’t include a few preferred walk-ons revealed in the days following, including the Treasure Valley’s two premiere high school running backs, Allamar Alexander of Columbia and Tyler Crowe of Skyview. Alexander was set to walk on at Washington State but flipped to the Broncos in the end. He produced an amazing senior year for the Wildcats, rushing for 2,114 yards and scoring 33 touchdowns. Crowe had a similarly spectacular season for the Hawks, amassing 2,325 yards and 29 TDs.

Bottom line: the Boise State running backs spot is stocked for the foreseeable future. How about this list? Junior Robert Mahone was academically suspended for the suspended First Responders Bowl but is still a Bronco. Andrew Van Buren was actually Boise State’s second-leading rusher behind Andrew Mattison last season. Redshirt freshman Danny Smith came in with Van Buren a year ago, and we haven’t even seen Smith yet. Incoming freshman George Holani tore it up for St. John Bosco in Southern California last fall. And who isn’t excited to see Declo’s Keegan Duncan, who—at 6-3, 220 pounds—appear to be a freak of nature. Plus, there’s always the Broncos’ Swiss Army knife, sophomore Khalil Shakir.

STEELIES SURVIVE

There was a fast start and sluggish finish—followed by an exhilarating ending for the Idaho Steelheads Wednesday night. The Steelheads busted out to a 2-0 first period lead over the Rapid City Rush in CenturyLink Arena on goals by Henrik Samuelsson and Kyle Schemp. The Rush corralled the Steelies from there, though, and finally knotted the game 2-2 with nine seconds left in regulation. Relief came from Charlie Dodero, whose tally two minutes into overtime for a 3-2 victory to break a three-game Idaho losing streak.

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February 14, 2007: The next step in the evolution of Boise State football is marked by the groundbreaking on the $36 million sky suite/press box addition to Bronco Stadium. The project, to be named the Steuckle Sky Center, included 38 luxury suites, 44 loge boxes and 750 club seats, with all but about 200 of the club seats already sold before the first dirt was turned. If not the biggest milestone in Bronco Stadium history, it was certainly the most expensive. The entire original facility, with a capacity of 14,500, was constructed at a cost of only $2.2 million in 1970.

(Tom Scott hosts the Scott Slant segment during the football season on KTVB’s Sunday Sports Extra and anchors five sports segments each weekday on 93.1 FM KTIK. He also served as color commentator on KTVB’s telecasts of Boise State football for 14 seasons.)