When Fresno State wasn’t stripping the ball away from Boise State, it was draining dagger three-pointers last night in a 74-67 win over the Broncos at Taco Bell Arena. Every time Boise State threatened, it seemed, the Bulldogs had an answer from deep. They shot 57 percent from beyond the arc for the game. Deshon Taylor poured in 26 points and made all four of his three-point attempts, the last one a sealer that gave the Bulldogs a 10-point lead with just over three minutes left. Right after that, Chandler Hutchison had the ball stolen (one of 11 Fresno State steals on the night), and Jaron Hopkins delivered a tomahawk dunk at the other end to clinch it.
As weird as it sounds, the turning point in the game came with just over four minutes left in the first half when the ball got stuck high in the standard above the backboard, stopping play. A couple Bulldogs tried to use the floor broom to dislodge it. Then they try to get to it by chucking another ball at it. Finally a young boy was lifted up onto the apparatus, and he climbed up through the supports and knocked it loose. At the time, Fresno State led 24-23. From there, interstingly enough, the Bulldogs wrapped a 15-3 run around halftime and took control of the game. The Broncos got back within three points with 7½ minutes left but could get no closer as the Dogs won in Boise for the first time in 13 years.
What can you say about Nick Duncan’s Senior Night? He received a standing ovation during the pregame ceremony as he stood next to his parents, who were here from Sydney. Duncan got another one when he fouled out late in the game. In between, his three-ball continued to desert him, as he went 1-for-6 and scored four points. Fellow senior James Reid only made one three-pointer himself. It took 6-11 Zach Haney to contribute from deep—he hit three treys, while Boise State’s other two deep connections came from Marcus Dickinson and Alex Hobbs. Another modicum of firepower the Broncos depend on was completely bottled up. Hutchison scored only seven points on 2-for-6 shooting and ended up turning the ball over an unthinkable six times. The last home game of the season had the wrong kind of exclamation point.
Also in the Mountain West last night, Colorado State got a three-pointer from Prentiss Nixon with six seconds left to give the Rams a 78-76 win over Wyoming. Nevada should remain on its collision course with CSU after visiting San Jose State tonight. The Wolf Pack and Rams will play for the Mountain West regular season championship Saturday night in Reno. Here’s the rub for Boise State: if the Broncos don’t win at Air Force Saturday, and Fresno State beats reeling UNLV at home (which it will), the Bulldogs will earn the third seed in the Mountain West Tournament. The Dogs would own the tiebreaker with its two wins over Boise State.
Boise State running back Jeremy McNichols is settled in at the NFL Combine, set to go in what I’m calling the “underwear measurables” and interviews in Indianapolis. Linebacker Tanner Vallejo checks in today. In Chad Reuter’s four-round pre-Combine mock draft at NFL.com, there’s no McNichols sighting. That’s kind of the line of demarcation for J-Mac, as he’s more often projected as a fifth-rounder. One of McNichols’ peers, BYU running back Jamaal Williams, is included in Reuter’s group, as a fourth-round selection going to New England.
Kickers also reported yesterday in Indianapolis. That includes Idaho star Austin Rehkow, an awesome guy by all accounts. A recent story by Tom Layberger on the National Football Foundation website detailed Rehkow’s devotion to his younger brother last season. Cameron Rehkow, 11 years old, was diagnosed with leukemia last April. All season, a record-breaking one for Austin, he took the field wearing a bracelet with Cameron’s initials. “I was able to have him kind of on the field with me at all times,” said Rehkow. “Whether it was a good kick or a bad kick I would glance at the bracelet with a clear mind and just really enjoy being out there because I know how fortunate I am. I also wanted to make him proud.” Done deal, I believe.
Mountain West football notes: Spring football started Monday at San Diego State, and the quarterback job doesn’t necessarily belong to Christian Chapman. The junior will miss the spring as he recovers from thumb surgery, giving sophomore backup Ryan Agnew most of the snaps. Former Rutgers quarterback Chris Laviano, a graduate transfer, is expected to join Chapman and Agnew in the summer. And how about the irony of Fresno State losing defensive line coach Tony Tuioti to Cal, where he’ll be outside linebackers coach. Tuioti is going to new Bulldogs coach Jeff Tedford’s old school, and he’ll be working for Cal defensive coordinator Tim DeRuyter, who was fired as Fresno State head coach last fall. The fact that Boise State D-coordinator Justin Wilcox is now head man for the Bears is beside the point.
The last stop on the Idaho Steelheads’ long winter road swing is Rapid City, where they open a three-game series against the Rush tonight. The Steelies will be facing a hot netminder, Rapid City’s Adam Morrison, who was ECHL Goaltender of the Week two weeks ago when he went 3-0 with a .926 save percentage. Idaho counters with solid special teams play, including a 4-for-7 performance on the power play in two games at Missouri last week. The Steelheads’ penalty kill unit is ranked fourh in the ECHL at 84.9 percent.
The Boise State women’s hoops team has regained its early season form, winning its sixth straight game with a 66-48 drubbing of Fresno State last night in Save Mart Center. Brooke Pahukoa scored 21 points as the Broncos led by as many as 28, capturing their first victory in Fresno since 2004. Boise State has moved into a tie for third in the Mountain West, with the regular season finale set Friday night against Air Force at Taco Bell Arena.
This Day In Sports…March 1, 1997, 20 years ago today:
If not the biggest, it’s the most visible fight in the career of one of Idaho’s most popular boxers ever, Kenny Keene. The Emmett Eliminator fought on the undercard of a Sugar Ray Leonard-Hector “Macho” Camacho bout in Atlanta City. Keene lost the IBC Cruiserweight title to Robert Daniels in a 12-round slugfest, with the split decision booed lustily by the crowd of 10,000.
(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.)