Monday, January 13, 2014.
It was not only bad, it was ugly—a 52-50 loss to Wyoming Saturday night that dropped Boise State to 1-2 in Mountain West play. It was bad enough that the Broncos scored just 23 points in the first half. Then, after they had seemingly taken control with a 46-37 lead with less than nine minutes left in the game, they made just one basket the rest of the night, allowing the gutty Cowboys to win it on a Larry Nance Jr. jumper with two seconds remaining. The two-point margin equaled Wyoming’s biggest lead of the game. In conference play in the Mountain West, it’s imperative that you hold serve at home. For the Broncos, this one hurts.
Boise State came into the game leading the Mountain West with 81.6 points per game. The team that put up 100 points in three of its first four games and topped the nation in scoring three weeks into the season had the tempo dictated by the Cowboys and scored only 50. The Broncos did the little things, forcing 17 turnovers and out-rebounding the Pokes by seven. BSU had 11 offensive boards to Wyoming’s one. But from there the Broncos were hapless. Despite getting second, third and even fourth chances off offensive rebounds, they couldn’t convert, shooting just 32 percent from the field and 17 percent from three-point range. Free throws didn’t help, either. Boise State missed seven of them in the second half that obviously could have changed the outcome.
Derrick Marks’ name seems to be coming up after every game now. The junior guard took over the second half at San Diego State last Wednesday. Marks couldn’t make his mark on Wyoming, though, going just 2-of-8 from the floor and scoring six points. He did have four assists and five rebounds, but the Broncos needed points. With Marks’ game not on the money, a spell or two from Mikey Thompson may have been the ticket. But the sophomore sparkplug was unable to answer the bell after trying out a bruised right knee during warmups. Thompson’s presence would be rather helpful Wednesday night against the surprising 4-0 Nevada Wolf Pack in Reno.
At the very least, the commitment to Boise State Friday from offensive tackle Jerhen Ertel adds some depth in a position group that’s going to need it. Ertel is the Broncos’ first junior college recruit of the 2014 class, coming from Glendale College in Arizona. He’s a bit light for an O-tackle at 280 pounds, but he has the length at 6-6. Boise State lost the left side of its offensive line, as Charles Leno Jr., Spencer Gerke and Matt Paradis have graduated. And the Broncos will be trying to bounce back from a down year in pass protection. The five sacks by Oregon State in the Hawaii Bowl on Christmas Eve gave Boise State a total of 26 sacks allowed for the season, the most since 2004.
You may have noticed with Bryan Harsin’s Boise State staff completed, Gerald Alexander’s name wasn’t on it. Alexander, the former Bronco safety who served as a graduate assistant under Harsin at Arkansas State last season, tweeted that he has accepted a G.A. post with Chris Petersen at Washington. “I'm a Bronco for life,” Alexander said on Twitter. “Boise State will forever be a special place to me. Ultimately it is my goal to develop & grow as a coach therefore I have accepted the opportunity to join Coach Petersen's staff.”
The last two active Boise State products left in the NFL Playoffs were ushered out yesterday as Carolina fell to San Francisco 23-10 in the divisional round. Panthers safety Quintin Mikell was injured in the final minute of the first half, and he was missed. Mikell had two pass breakups at that point. Four plays later the 49ers scored what would be the winning touchdown. Richie Brockel played much of the game at fullback for Carolina without any stats. The loss also ended the season for Fruitland High grad and veteran Panthers left tackle Jordan Gross.
On the other side, Niners left guard Mike Iupati, the former Idaho star, moves into the NFC Championship Game this Sunday at Seattle. The Seahawks got there by outlasting New Orleans Saturday, 23-15. Saints tight end Josh Hill, a former Idaho State Bengal who redshirted his freshman year at Boise State, had one catch for 23 yards. Hugh Thornton, who played high school ball at both Mountain View High and Boise High, started at left guard for Indianapolis in its 43-22 loss to New England. Thornton was pressed into service twice as a tackler after interceptions by Colts quarterback Andrew Luck.
The Idaho Steelheads had gone five consecutive periods in Colorado without a goal and were in danger of a disheartening two-game sweep at the hands of the Eagles Saturday night. Then the lamp switched on for the Steelheads. Trailing 2-0, they scored four times in the third period to win going away, 4-2. The newly-returned Austin Fyten potted two of the goals, including an empty-netter with three seconds remaining. It was just the third time in 15 tries this season Idaho won a game after trailing at the end of two periods. The victory came on the heels of a 3-0 shutout loss Friday night that saw the Steelies put up only 17 shots on goal. The Steelheads return home this week for games against the Utah Grizzlies Wednesday and Friday.
While Pierre Jackson was away, Kevin Murphy came to play for the Idaho Stampede Saturday night. Murphy poured in a Jackson-like 39 points in leading the Stampede to a 123-113 win over the L.A. D-Fenders, earning the Stamps a split with the Lakers affiliate. Idaho trailed by eight points at the end of the third quarter before exploding for 42 in the fourth. The Stampede were missing Jackson due to an elbow injury and also played without double-double specialist Richard Howell. Kellen Thornton filled Howell’s role with 11 points and 11 rebounds. The Stamps have dropped into a first-place tie in the D-League West Division with the Santa Cruz Warriors, the team they’ll host in CenturyLink Arena this Saturday night.
Around the horn with other things: Former Boise State star Troy Merritt carded his second consecutive even-par 70 Friday at the Sony Open—and missed the cut by one stroke. The Boise State wrestling team salvaged one win out of its weekend road trip, routing fellow Pac-12 affiliate member Cal Poly 35-6 yesterday. And the 23rd-ranked Boise State gymnastics team broke a school record for season-opening scores with a 195.850 in the Deseret First Duel at Utah. The Broncos finished second to the sixth-ranked Utes in the quad meet. The attendance of 14,910 at the Huntsman Center was mind-boggling, but it was not an aberration.
This Day In Sports…January 13, 1974, 40 years ago today:
The Miami Dolphins become Super Bowl champions for the second year in a row—defeating the Minnesota Vikings, 24-7, in Super Bowl VIII. Dolphins fullback Larry Csonka, still the second-leading rusher in Super Bowl history, ran for 145 yards. And quarterback Bob Griese had to throw only seven passes in the game, but he kept the Viking defense off-guard by completing six.
(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.)