Courageous comeback, confounding defeat

This Boise State team rallied big against No. 6 Nevada last month in Taco Bell Arena, led in the final two minutes, and lost by one point. On Saturday, the Broncos staged a 16-2 late-game run against the Mountain West’s second-best team, Utah State, to take a five-point lead with 48 seconds left. They could not sustain it, allowing the Aggies to tie it at the end and win it 78-71 in overtime. There were two misses from the charity stripe by Boise State’s most dependable guy at the line, Alex Hobbs, and two fouls on Marcus Dickinson, one of them ticky-tack. It was Broncos’ seventh loss in a one-possession game in regulation this season. “They made winning plays down the stretch—we missed free throws,” said coach Leon Rice. This Boise State team has not learned how to win.

We need to devote some time to Malek Harwell, though. Coming out of Century High in Pocatello as USA Today Idaho Player of the Year four years ago, Boise State’s hopes were high, and so were his. But a knee injury wiped out his freshman year, and the road since then has been tough. Harwell was a major contributor Saturday, with a career-high 25 minutes, eight points, and two three-pointers. His second trey of the day pulled the Broncos within two points with just over four minutes left—then it was his two free throws that tied the game 59-59 with 3½ minutes remaining. Here’s hoping it’s a trend.


The unpredictability of conference road games came down hard on the Boise State women Saturday in an 81-68 upset loss at Utah State. Playing their fourth game without star guard Riley Lupfer, the Broncos finally flinched, shooting just 39 percent from the field while allowing the Aggies to connect for 56 percent. The wheels didn’t fall off for Braydey Hodgins, however. Hodgins scored 20 points or more for the fifth straight game, putting up 23. Boise State is stil in first place in the Mountain West, holding a one-game lead over New Mexico and Wyoming with four games to play.


Former Boise State stars Brett Rypien and Alexander Mattison report to the NFL Combine in Indianapolis the next couple of days. Which brings up the fact that Tyler Horton and Jabril Frazier did not receive invites to the scouting extravaganza. Frazier is an interesting study. His draft profile lists him as a defensive end, which he was originally at Boise State. But he morphed into what is now the Broncos’ STUD linebacker position. In the past two seasons, Frazier combined for 83 tackles, 15.5 of them for loss with 11.5 sacks. At 6-3, 238 pounds, Frazier won’t be seen as big enough to be an NFL D-end. But he’d be fine as an outside linebacker. Scouts might see him as a tweeter, though.


Wide receiver A.J. Richardson will not be at the Combine and is not one of Boise State’s projected draft selections, but there is a read-between-the-lines stat that is in his favor as teams evaluate undrafted free agents. Pro Football Focus notes that Richardson helped Brett Rypien a lot last season, recording the best passer rating when targeted among all wideouts in the Mountain West. Richardson posted a 134.4 passer rating on targets, significantly higher than San Jose State’s Tre Walker, who ranked No. 2 on the list with a 125.8 rating. Richardson makes quarterbacks look good. He ended his Bronco career with 825 receiving yards and eight touchdowns on 54 catches as a senior.


The Tulsa Oilers relentlessly peppered the Idaho Steelheads with shots on goal over the weekend in CenturyLink Arena. The Steelheads survived it Friday night, coming away with a 6-3 victory despite goalie Tomas Sholl having to defend a whopping 53 attempts (he made a career-high 50 saves). Ryan Faragher didn’t fare as well between the pipes Saturday night, as Tulsa put up 40 shots on goal in a 5-1 victory. Still, the Steelies took two out of the three-game series and continue to lead the ECHL’s Mountain Division by two points over the Oilers and Utah.


The national rankings in women’s gymnastics held serve yesterday. No. 10 Boise State fell to No. 6 Denver on the Pioneers’ home floor. While the Broncos were good, scoring a 196.375, Denver was great, posting a 197.725. Boise State did defeat Iowa State in the tri-meet. The Boise State swimming and diving team had its two-year title streak snapped, finishing third behind San Diego State and Nevada at the Mountain West Championships. The Broncos’ highlights on the final day of the Mountain West Indoor Track and Field Championships included a sweep of the women’s and men’s 3,000-meter titles by Allie Ostrander and Addison Dehaven. The Boise State women finished fifth and the men sixth.


Back to hoops—for the second time in 72 hours, the College of Idaho men registered the school’s biggest margin of victory ever in a postseason game when it beat Northwest University 95-59 Saturday night. Nate Bruneel led the way with 20 points, while Gibson Berryhill nailed back-to-back three-pointers to key a 29-8 first half run that put the game away. The Coyotes shot 56 percent for the game and held Northwest to 29 percent from the field in the second half. With the victory, the Yotes move on to the Cascade Conference Tournament Championship game Tuesday night at the J.A. Albertson Activities Center.

The Northwest Nazarene men’s hopes of a GNAC regular season title remained alive with a thrilling 79-78 overtime win at Concordia Saturday night. Jayden Bezzant scored all eight of the Nighthawks’ points in OT. And the NNU women rolled past Western Washington 85-71 on Senior Night. The No. 7 Nighthawks are now 25-1 overall and 17-1 in GNAC and face Alaska-Anchorage, with identical records, Thursday night in the Frozen North for sole possession of first place.

This Day In Sports…brought to you by COMMERCIAL TIRE…keeping you and your family on the road.

February 25, 1982: Boise State fires Mike Mullally as athletic director after a public outcry over his priority seating plan in Bronco Stadium and names 28-year-old assistant athletic director Gene Bleymaier to the post. That would begin a Bleymaier tenure that would last almost 30 years, encompassing the installation of the blue turf in 1986, a move to Division I-A and the Big West in 1996, a move to the WAC in 2001, and Bronco football’s climb into the top 10 early in the new century. Bleymaier was fired by president Bob Kustra in August, 2011.

(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.)