Broncos hang in, Nevada outlasts ‘em

It’s been said more than once the past few days: “This Boise State team is not built to beat this Nevada team.” Maybe so, but the final score, 85-77 Wolf Pack, wasn’t indicative of last night’s game in Reno. The Broncos dug in after falling behind 9-0, grabbing an eight-point halftime lead and going up 10 on their first possession of the second half. The Pack wore Boise State down late in the game, though. Nevada forced the issue all night, drawing fouls and getting to the line. How about the free throw differential? The Wolf Pack made 30 of 34 tries at the charity stripe, while the Broncos were just 11-for-16. The Pack made more freebies in the final five minutes (13) than BSU did all game. The net effect: Nevada is tied for first place in the Mountain West with Colorado State at 11-4, while Boise State is alone in third at 10-5.

The Bureau of Missing Persons was summoned last night at Lawlor Events Center. If it weren’t for step-ups, Boise State wouldn’t have been in range of an upset. Zach Haney made a heckuva reappearance, coming into the game 6½ minutes in and scoring the first time he touched the ball. The 6-11 post finished with 13 points and four rebounds. Haney had not even played in two of the previous four games, and in the other two he logged just 13 minutes and scored two points. He offset an off-night by David Walker, who was held to two points.

Everybody knows about Nick Duncan’s travails of late, and the Broncos had to feel good about him. Duncan hadn’t exceeded three three-pointers in a game in a month and a half, and he canned five from deep last night and scored 19 points, a season high. It wasn’t the way Nevada coach Eric Musselman drew it up, but his team got the win. “Duncan is just such a smart player, he’s a great competitor, he has great will to win, he can really shoot the three and he’s an excellent passer,” Musselman said going into the game in the Reno Gazette-Journal. “We don’t want to give him any air space. We want to crowd him and contest his 3-ball and rush him like he’s a quarterback while understanding he has great vision and is a willing passer.” Duncan escaped the pressure this time.

The Cascade Conference Tournament is underway, and College of Idaho moves past round one after outlasting Northwest University 75-72 last night in Caldwell. Joey Nebeker scored 28 points for the Yotes, who will host Oregon Tech on Saturday. It’s still the regular season in the Big Sky, of course, and tonight it’s the in-state battle between Idaho and Idaho State. Due to the Lionel Hampton Jazz Festival occupying the Kibbie Dome, the game will be played at Memorial Gym. The Vandals are in sixth place in the conference—trying to get into the fifth spot to avoid the play-in round of the Big Sky Tournament. The Bengals are struggling through a 5-21 season. They’re definitely in the play-in round. On the women’s side, Boise State rallied for a 77-74 win over Nevada last night in Taco Bell Arena to improve to 19-7.

Regarding Kellen Moore’s NFL status, I think it’s interesting to hear from Babe Laufenberg, the Dallas radio color analyst who’s watched as much Cowboys football as anybody. In a live chat Tuesday on the Dallas Morning News website, Laufenberg was asked, “Smarter move: Re-sign Kellen Moore, or draft a QB?” Replied Laufenberg: “I don’t believe the two moves are mutually exclusive. I want to see Kellen Moore come in and compete for the backup job, and I would also like to see the Cowboys draft a QB.”

Laufenberg’s reasoning: “New England drafts a QB every other year, and they have maybe the greatest QB in NFL history. In order to develop one, you have to draft one. There is no downside. If you choose right, they become valuable to you or valuable to someone else. Jimmy Garoppolo was taken by New England with a late second-round pick, and if traded, will bring back a first-round pick, plus other picks.” That doesn’t tell us anything about Kellen’s future, but it’s an interesting take. Draft a quarterback, develop him, and trade him. It’s like flippin’ a house.

A Graham DeLaet update going into the Honda Classic today at Palm Beach Gardens, FL. The former Boise State star wrapped up the PGA Tour’s western swing with a tie for 17th last weekend at the Genesis Open. That jumped him up to 75th in the FedExCup standings and boosted his season earnings to $430,888—more than half of what he made all of last season, and we’re still in February. DeLaet has made his last three cuts.

Beyond guys like Kris Bryant and Kyle Schwarber, there are other former Boise Hawks commanding the spotlight as spring training hits full stride. An under-the-radar up-and-comer is Justin Bour in Miami. Marlins manager Don Mattingly said Monday that Bour will be the club’s everyday first baseman this season. He just has to prove he can hit southpaws to stay there. Bour has hit 39 home runs in three big league seasons, exactly zero of them versus lefthanders. He batted .258 with two homers in 48 games as a Hawk in 2009, his first professional season after being drafted by the Cubs in the 25th round out of George Mason University.

More sports doings: Boise State travels to Albuquerque to compete in the 2017 Mountain West Indoor Track and Field Championships beginning today. Two key Bronco performers will be distance standouts Brenna Peloquin and Sadie Henderson. For the third time in the last four years, C of I will play host to the USCSA Western Regional Championships at Brundage Mountain. A total of 17 teams will compete today through Saturday for three men’s and three women’s team in the USCSA National Championships next month at Mount Bachelor in Bend.

Finally, at least it’s the same team—in the same place. Baseball season’s been in a tizzy this month, but College of Idaho is still playing Saint Martin’s in a five-game series this week at Wolfe Field. First pitch for the single games today and tomorrow has been moved up to 2 p.m. The two teams will play a Saturday doubleheader and another single game on Sunday.

This Day In Sports…February 23, 1989:

Boise State makes its first national TV appearance from the Pavilion, hosting Idaho live on ESPN. Senior Chris Childs led the Broncos to an intense 63-61 victory before a sellout crowd of 12,422—still the second-largest in school history. BSU was defending Big Sky champion and would win the conference regular season title, but the Vandals would topple the Broncos in the championship game of the Big Sky Tournament in the Pavilion to earn a trip to the NCAA’s the following week to play UNLV…in the Pavilion.

(Tom Scott hosts the Scott Slant segment Sunday nights at 10:30PM on KTVB’s Sunday Sports Extra and anchors five sports segments each weekday on 93.1 The Ticket. He also served as color commentator on KTVB’s telecasts of Boise State football for 14 seasons.)