Free throws allow for a finish this time

Boise State hadn’t dropped back-to-back games all season going into last night’s contest at Fresno State, and the charity stripe kept that stat intact in a 70-64 win at Save Mart Center. The Broncos led by 11 points at halftime, but who didn’t have visions of Wyoming when the Bulldogs scored the first four points inside a minute after the intermission? Well, the evaporation of the lead wasn’t as quick as in Laramie—it was a slow, steady whittle. Fresno State got it down to two points with 4½ remaining when Bulldogs star Deshon Taylor, the Mountain West’s third-leading scorer, made a three-pointer, his his field goal after eight misses. Another Taylor trey reduced the margin to one point with four minutes left. But Boise State went 25-for-33 from the free throw line and hit six in the final 1:02 to seal it.

It was another odd night for Chandler Hutchison. The Boise State star posted a double-double again with 21 points and 10 rebounds—typical enough. But 15 of Hutchison’s points came from the line on 18 attempts, as he was just 3-for-12 from the field. Hutchison has scored 48 points in the past two games, and he’s done it by going 9-for-31 from the field and 29-for-38 from the stripe as he has continually attacked the hoop and drawn fouls. Alex Hobbs contributed mightily last night, logging 20 points, 15 of them in the first half. Hobbs’ patented floaters and layins were huge. Chris Sengfelder added 13 points, including an amazing putback of a missed Hutchison free throw when he knifed between a couple Bulldogs with 1½ minutes left.

Opponents have started building a wall around the three-point line against Boise State. They don’t want the deep ball to beat them. The Broncos attempted just 12 treys last night and hit only three. Justinian Jessup took just one shot all night (it was a three-pointer, and he made it). Boise State’s three-point defense held true, though. The Broncos came into the game No. 5 in the country, allowing just 28.4 percent shooting from beyond the arc. Fresno State did make some big threes in the second half, but the Bulldogs missed all eight of their attempts in the first half in the clutches of Boise State’s sticky 2-3 zone. For the game they shot…28.6 percent.

As soon as the national championship game was over Monday night, Mark Schlabach’s Way-Too-Early Top 25 was out at And Schlabach has Boise State at No. 17. “With quarterback Brett Rypien and all but one defensive starter coming back in 2018, the Broncos should be the preseason favorites among Group of 5 teams to grab a New Year’s Six bowl berth,” writes Schlabach. “Rypien’ll miss Cedrick Wilson and Jake Roh, but almost everybody else is returning. Leighton Vander Esch, the Mountain West Defensive Player of the Year, decided to turn pro, but he’s the only defensive player departing from the unit that started in the Broncos’ win over Oregon in the Las Vegas Bowl.” USA Today’s first projections for 2018 have Boise State at No. 14. Yep, this is way too early.

Boise State quarterback Montell Cozart has not played his last football game. Cozart is on the American team roster for the Spiral Tropical Bowl this Sunday in Daytona Beach, FL. The graduate transfer from Kansas threw for 754 yards and 10 touchdowns with one interception this past season. Cozart made an immediate impact for the Broncos when he came off the bench in the second half to key the season-opening win over Troy. Former Broncos Mercy Maston, Rondell McNair and Shane Williams-Rhodes played in the inaugural edition of the Tropical Bowl two years ago.

In case you missed it on Sunday Sports Extra the other night, here’s the whole enchilada for Kellen Moore’s playing career. We’re still waiting word on whether Dallas is actually going to hire the Boise State icon as its quarterbacks coach, but we’re assuming his playing career is over. Between Prosser High, Boise State and the Cowboys, Moore threw for 26,813 yards, 319 touchdowns and 68 interceptions. That’s a pretty good TD-to-pick ratio. The most intriguing number for Kellen was always touchdown passes. He still holds the high school career record in the state of Washington with 173 (he threw a staggering 67 as a senior and 66 as a junior) and is second behind Case Keenum in college football history with 142.

Moore’s incomparable FBS career came roughly 15 years after a similar run in the FCS by Montana quarterback Dave Dickenson. And you have to think Moore is eventually headed to the place Dickenson was admitted to Monday. Dickenson was announced as part of the 2018 class for the College Football Hall Of Fame. There should be place reserved someday for the winningest quarterback in college football history, do ya think? Dickenson won the Walter Payton Award in 1995 while leading the Grizzlies to the national championship. Including the playoffs, Dickenson threw for 5,676 yards and 51 touchdowns that season. He pestered Boise State—with the exception of one pivotal Bronco win on the blue turf in 1994. For the past two seasons, Dickenson has been head coach of the Calgary Stampeders in the CFL.

Former Boise State coach Dan Hawkins, whose son Cody once quarterbacked for him during his days at Colorado, has the family ties going strong at UC Davis. Hawkins has promoted Cody from a quality control post to wide receivers coach for the Aggies. Cody, Idaho’s Gatorade Player of the Year at Bishop Kelly in 2005 and 2006, has coached at BK, internationally, as a grad assistant at Ohio State, elsewhere in high school and junior college, and for USA Football since his playing career ended. Cody spent his formative years in Boise but points out that he was born in Davis.

More newness for the Idaho Steelheads and their fans as the Kalamazoo Wings come to Boise for a three-game series beginning tonight in CenturyLink Arena. This will be the first-ever meeting between the Steelheads and Kalamazoo, which has won four of its last five games. As for the Steelies, they’ve won five of their last six on home ice. Two Idaho players are particularly hot—Jefferson Dahl and Steve McParland have each scored goals in four straight games. Elsewhere on the pro front, there’s sameness for the Boise Hawks this summer, as Scott Little will return for his second season as manager. Little skippered the Hawks to a 37-39 record last season.

This Day In Sports…January 10, 1938:

The birthday of one of the greatest first basemen and sluggers in baseball history. Willie McCovey didn’t join the San Francisco Giants until the end of July in 1959 but was still voted National League Rookie of the Year. He went on to hit 521 career home runs in a 22-year Hall of Fame career and was NL Most Valuable Player in 1969, when he batted .320 with 45 homers and 126 RBI. McCovey, nicknamed “Stretch” because of his prowess around first base, was once called “the scariest hitter in baseball” by Bob Gibson, himself one of the most intimidating pitchers in history. Willie McCovey…80 years old today.

(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.)