The ESPN.com feed had already declared it final in overtime, an 87-84 win for Boise State. TThe ESPN.com feed had already declared it final in overtime, an 87-84 win for Boise State. The site had changed the Broncos’ record to 17-8 overall and 8-4 in the Mountain West. James Webb III had just banked in a three-pointer at the buzzer, with the ball leaving his hand well before the backboard light went on. But the officials wondered if the clock started on time, so they used a stopwatch to see if Webb really got the shot off in the 0.8 seconds that were remaining. What? You can do that? The officials then waved off the bucket. The Broncos, who thought they had won the game, didn’t have much emotional gas left for a second overtime, and Colorado State won 97-93. Hard to remember a tougher loss.
One of Boise State coach Leon Rice’s two lineup changes worked like a charm last night despite the bizarre result. Montigo Alford, the transfer from College of Southern Idaho who has spent most of the past two seasons in the background, got the start last night at guard in place of Anthony Drmic. Alford equaled his career-high before halftime with 14 points, canning all four of his three-point attempts. He had not scored in the previous five games (he didn’t even play in one of them). Alford ended up with 25 for the game, going 7-for-11 from beyond the arc. After serving as a source of massive frustration during the conference season, the three-point line was a theme for the Broncos last night. They awoke to go 18-for-35 from deep, a school record for makes.
The other theme for Boise State—and not a good one—was rebounding. The Broncos were out-boarded 49-34 by Colorado State, and 13-4 on the offensive glass. The Broncos had just one offensive rebound in regulation. They weren’t in their normal rotation, as Robin Jorch started in place of Nick Duncan, and Chandler Hutchison was on the bench in street clothes for not completing some academic responsibilities. Jorch played just 14 minutes before fouling out, and Zach Haney was on the floor for just four minutes, with zeroes across the box score. On the other hand, there was good road energy from Boise State considering the funk it’s been in.
Of the other four games in the Mountain West last night, the one to watch was San Diego State at Fresno State. Save Mart Center was a place where the Aztecs have stubbed their toes—and they did, suffering their first conference loss, 58-57. SDSU still has a 3½-game lead in the Mountain West race, and the Bulldogs have moved into a tie for second with New Mexico (Boise State is now fourth). Elsewhere, playing without starters Stephen Zimmerman Jr. and Ben Carter, UNLV got a scare from San Jose State before prevailing 64-61 in the Thomas & Mack Center. And Nevada racked Air Force 72-52 in Reno.
Idaho tries to reprise one of its best basketball weekends of the new year when it hosts Northern Colorado tonight and North Dakota Saturday night in Cowan Spectrum. The Vandals swept those teams to open Big Sky play on New Year’s weekend, but that’s when they had top scorers Victor Sanders and Perrion Callandret. Sanders could be out another month with a broken hand, and Callandret is still dealing with a sprained foot. With seven games left in the regular season, Idaho is right in the middle of the Big Sky standings at 6-5. All 12 conference teams qualify for the Big Sky Tournament, with the top four receiving a bye to the quarterfinals.
Julius Brown, whose contract as secondary coach at Boise State was not renewed last month, has a new job as cornerbacks coach at Utah State. Brown was the fall guy for a defense that gave up a bushel of big plays down the stretch last season. The 2015 season was a paradox. The Broncos recorded 22 interceptions, tied for fourth in the nation—and allowed nine pass plays of 50 or more yards, also tied for fourth in the country. Bronco coach Bryan Harsin and USU coach Matt Wells are reasonably good friends. Makes you wonder if they had a conversation about this.
In the relative calm between the Senior Bowl and the NFL Combine later this month, Darian Thompson is still getting props from teams wide and far. BaltimoreRavens.com calls Thompson an “interceptions monster.” And when asked who he models his game after, the former Boise State star told website editor Sarah Ellison, “Ed Reed.” That’s music to Ravens fans’ ears. They’ve been waiting for the next Ed Reed ever since the former All-Pro safety left Baltimore. And Ellison points out that Thompson, at 6-2, 215 pounds, is three inches taller and 10 pounds heavier than Reed was. Some experts feel Thompson could sneak into the first round of the NFL Draft this spring.
Local PGA Tour mainstays Troy Merritt and Tyler Aldridge spent last week at a venue packed with fans who are fanatical about golf. But neither made the weekend at the Waste Management Phoenix Open (nor did Graham DeLaet). Consequently, Merritt and Aldridge didn’t compete in front of the all-time record golf crowd of 201,003 last Saturday. It’s a different kind of pressurized stage today, when the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am tees off. Now it’s just as much about the celebrities and well-healed amateurs. Merritt plays Monterey Peninsula today with Humana CEO Michael McCallister, and Aldridge hits Spyglass with Texas Instruments CEO Rich Templeton. Luminaries like Aaron Rodgers, Justin Timberlake, Bill Murray and Larry the Cable Guy were assigned a bit further up golf’s food chain.
The Idaho Stampede’s J.J. O’Brien can’t be stopped right now. O’Brien went 13-for-16 from the field and poured in 32 points last night as the Stampede picked up their second straight victory over the L.A. D-Fenders in CenturyLink Arena, 107-99. The San Diego State product has now scored 107 points in the last four games. Tibor Pleiss had another big game, too, scoring 12 points and pulling down 16 rebounds.
The Mountain West’s best women’s basketball team left no doubt in Taco Bell Arena last night. One streak had to come to an end, and it was Boise State’s, as Colorado State destroyed the Broncos 83-51 for its 18th win in a row. The Rams’ lead reached 37 points midway through the fourth quarter. Boise State’s nine-game win streak was extinguished, thanks in large part to 30 percent shooting from the field (it was in the low 20’s for much of the game).
This Day In Sports…February 11, 2011, five years ago today:
The Cleveland Cavaliers break an NBA record 26-game losing streak by beating the Los Angeles Clippers 126-119 in overtime. In their first season without superstar LeBron James, the Cavs had been positively awful. But five days after ending the streak they would take down the two-time defending NBA champion L.A. Lakers, improving Cleveland’s record to 10-46. Just a season earlier the Cavaliers had compiled the league’s best record at 61-21.
(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.)