Train wreck ends up in single digits

Not only did the wheels come off early for Boise State Saturday evening, you wonder if they were ever on in the Broncos’ 89-80 loss at Fresno State. “This is the first time in a long time we looked like a young team,” said coach Leon Rice on the KBOI postgame show.” Some ‘deer in headlights’ out there. A bit frazzled.” Boise State missed 12 of its first 13 shots from the field, finally hitting its first one 7½ minutes into the game. The Bulldogs’ lead reached a whopping 28 points in the first half and 27 in the second. But the final margin of nine says something. The Broncos may have played to their years during much of the game, but they showed maturity down the stretch in getting the lead down to eight at one point.

Chandler Hutchison started slowly at Fresno State (didn’t everybody?) but recovered enough to log his eighth double-double of the season with 14 points and 10 rebounds. Nick Duncan never did recover, going 2-for-11 from three-point range and scoring seven points. Boise State will work on getting its grit back in time for tomorrow night’s matchup with New Mexico. “If we don’t have an edge to us, we can get out-toughed,” said Rice. You knew the seven-game winning streak and unbeaten start in Mountain West play wasn’t going to last forever for the Broncos. They weren’t supposed to be in this position, picked as they were to finish fifth in the conference this season. With a 4-1 record, Boise State is now tied for first with Nevada.

The Mountain West’s highlight—or lowlight—on Saturday came well after the game was over in Fort Collins. Colorado State coach Larry Eustachy claims New Mexico assistant Terrence Rencher tried to bait one of his players into a fight after the Lobos’ 84-71 win. The Albuquerque Journal posted video of the confrontation as Rencher jaws with CSU forward Emmanuel Omogbo outside Moby Arena, enraging Omogbo. It took Eustachy and his wife to restrain him. Eustachy told ESPN that Rencher was trash-talking with Rams players before and during the game. In a column in the Coloradoan yesterday, writer Matt Stephens called Rencher a “coward.” The Mountain West is investigating the incident.

Since the decommit of Rexburg defensive lineman Zeke Birch late last week, Boise State has bolstered its 2017 recruiting class with two verbals over the weekend. One was an unusual “recommit,” with Aisa Kalamete executing a double-flip. Kalamate, the linebacker out of Highland High in Pocatello, was one of the Broncos’ earliest commits last summer but switched to Washington State last month. Now he’s back on the Boise State list. The consensus is that the departure of WSU defensive line coach Joe Salave’a to Oregon nudged Kalamate back toward Boise State.

This name bears watching. Boise State’s other commit of the weekend came from the Hawaii Defensive Player of the Year, cornerback Kekaula Kaniho of Kahuku High. “808 to the 208,” tweeted Kaniho yesterday, talkin’ area codes. Kaniho returned five interceptions for touchdowns as a senior, four of them in consecutive playoff games. Kahuku is the school where former Bishop Kelly and current McCall-Donnelly coach Lee Leslie was head coach in 2014. I’m thinking Kaniho played for Leslie as a sophomore.

Rees Odhiambo played a key part in Seattle’s 36-20 loss at Atlanta in the NFC Playoffs divisional round Saturday. Unfortunately. The Boise State grad came on at right guard for the Seahawks early in the first quarter when Germaine Ifedi was injured. Odhiambo played well on a solid opening drive, springing a couple of Thomas Rawls runs and looking good in pass protect as Seattle took a 7-0 lead. But he allowed a sack in the second quarter—and later hooked the foot of Russell Wilson, who went down for a safety. The Seahawks still led 10-9 at the time, but it was a gigantic momentum shift. Odhiambo was then replaced by a hobbling Ifedi but returned to play the second half.

There was no stopping Mason Crosby at the end of the NFC Divisional Playoffs yesterday. The Green Bay kicker nailed field goals of 56 and 51 yards in the final minute and a half, the latter one as time ran out to give the Packers a thrilling 34-31 win over Dallas. Former Boise State star DeMarcus Lawrence did his best to make Crosby’s life difficult, bringing Ty Montgomery down for a five-yard loss, putting Crosby on the fringe of his range two plays before the 56-yarder. Lawrence had three tackles overall as he and Tyrone Crawford played through their ailments yesterday—Crawford logged one tackle. Orlando Scandrick had a decent game with three stops and a nine-yard sack of Aaron Rodgers. Former Idaho Vandal Benson Mayowa started for Dallas and made one tackle.

After two big wins over Colorado, the Idaho Steelheads were stunningly brought back to earth by the Eagles in a 9-3 rout Saturday night in CenturyLink Arena. Steelheads goalie Philippe Desrosiers had turned in his best performance of the season Friday night with 52 saves in a 3-1 win. But Desrosiers followed with his worst, allowing nine goals while having to play the whole game with fellow netminder Branden Komm still on loan to Bakersfield. Three different Eagles scored multiple goals and Matt Garbowsky netted his second hat trick in five games. The Steelies are back on the ice this afternoon for a Martin Luther King Day game against the Utah Grizzlies in West Valley City.

Back to hoops: the Boise State women and Fresno State went into the final two minutes of their game Saturday tied 66-66. There wouldn’t be another field goal scored the rest of the way. But there was one made free throw, by the Broncos’ Shalen Shaw with four seconds left, and Boise State snapped a two-game losing streak with a 67-66 win. The Broncos improved to 12-3 overall and 3-2 in the Mountain West. On the men’s side, Idaho pulled away from Idaho State to win 79-62 in Pocatello. The Vandals got 22 points from Victor Sanders, who went 14-of-15 from the free throw line. College of Idaho split over the weekend, falling 90-57 at Oregon Tech Saturday and winning 87-81 at Southern Oregon yesterday. And Northwest Nazarene rallied for an 85-80 win over Seattle Pacific Saturday night in Nampa.

In collegiate gymnastics, if you win a quad meet, you earn three victories, so the Boise State women are 3-0 after besting Stanford, UC Davis and Yale Friday night in Davis, CA. New Zealand Olympian Courtney McGregor made her Bronco debut with an all-around title as Boise State posted an impressive Opening Night score of 195.30. Also, Sadi Henderson’s BSU record in the 800-meters highlighted Saturday’s action in the Ed Jacoby Invitational at the Jackson Indoor Track. Her time of 2:05.71 shattered the previous school mark and is the fourth-fastest indoor result in Mountain West history. It’s also the fastest time this season in Division I.

This Day In Sports…January 16, 2003:

Reacting to the controversial tie that ended the 2002 All-Star Game, big league owners vote to award home-field advantage in the World Series to the winner of the Midsummer Classic. It was supposed to be an incentive to All-Star Game managers and participants to manage and play to win. The American League benefitted from the rule, prevailing in 11 of the next 14 All-Star Games, but the National League won eight of the ensuing World Series. Beginning this year, home-field advantage will go to the participant with the best regular-season record.

(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.)