Monday, February 24, 2014.
There’s never been an ending like this one. Both teams, and more than 9,000 fans, were standing in Taco Bell Arena Saturday night as the three officials huddled around the replay monitor, talked at mid-court, and huddled around the TV screen again. Then they called both coaches over, and it wasn’t until Boise State’s Leon Rice crouched with a double fist-pump that we knew the Broncos had defeated UNLV in overtime, 91-90. Rice actually threw his head up in the air for a split second before the fist-pump, leaving us to wonder if it was agony or ecstasy. But Boise State, on the short end of a few heartbreakers this season, got one back. Dramatically. Trailing the entire second half, and down by six with less than a minute and a half left, the Broncos tied it with 30 seconds left and got it to OT, where they found new life.
Boise State has trusted Derrick Marks at the end of tense games many times, and it hasn’t always gone so well this season. Most infamously, there was the final possession at San Diego State in January, when Marks dribbled the ball for 25 seconds before missing a shot with one tick on the clock. But he drained the winning free throws against New Mexico 12 days ago, and he was other-worldly versus UNLV. Marks was conspicuously absent during much of regulation, but he was everything the Broncos could have hoped for in overtime. He scored all 13 of his team’s points, going 5-for-5 from the field and nailing two free throws. Marks will be remembered for this one. The uniqueness of Deville Smith’s not-quite-buzzer-beater assures it.
There was a flip-flop in free throw fortunes in Saturday night’s game, and it was crucial in the outcome. In the first half, UNLV was 7-for-8 from the charity stripe, and Boise State got there only once, with two misses by Mikey Thompson. He missed two more early in the second half before making the Broncos’ first freebie of the game to complete a three-point play with 15½ minutes left. Boise State would make nine of its final 10 free throws, including the two pressure-cooker ones by Ryan Watkins that knotted the game at 78-78 and the pair by Marks in overtime. All the while, the Rebels were going 4-for-10 from the line in the final four minutes, with each miss cracking the door open a bit more for a Bronco squad that at one point looked dead in the water.
Former Boise State standouts Charles Leno and Matt Paradis have had their meat market experience now at the NFL Combine in Indianapolis. On Saturday, neither did well in the bench press, with Paradis executing 23 reps and Leno 21, the second-fewest in the offensive line group. The highlight for both was the 20-yard shuttle—Leno ran it in 4.40 seconds, the second-best time among offensive linemen, and Paradis clocked a 4.46. Ex-Bronco Demarcus Lawrence takes his turn today with the defensive linemen.
Kaitlyn Farrington didn’t make the cover of this week’s Sports Illustrated, but it’s close. The snowboard halfpipe gold medalist from Bellevue has a full-page photo in the table of contents on page 3, followed by a feature story inside. The piece by Austin Murphy chronicled Farrington’s rise with stuff we already knew—the formative years in Sun Valley and the selling of cows from the family ranch to raise money for travel to far-off competitions. But many of us didn’t know that Farrington left the US Snowboarding program three years ago because she was “worried that her boarding had begun to stagnate.” It was during her time away that she perfected the new tricks that got her to the top of the podium in Sochi. Kaitlyn and her gold medal touch down at Friedman Memorial Airport in Hailey early this afternoon.
Farrington was the most successful Idahoan at the 2014 Winter Olympics. Understatement. Unless you want to count Coeur d’Alene native Sage Kotsenburg, who won the first gold medal of the Sochi Games in men’s slopestyle. Nick Cunningham, the one-time Boise State track captain, wrapped up his stay at the Games by piloting the USA3 four-man bobsled to 12th place yesterday, while on Saturday Boise’s Sara Studebaker and her biathlon relay teammates finished a respectable seventh, and Jasmine Campbell, the Sun Valley resident who was skiing for the US Virgin Islands, was 43rd in the women’s slalom.
Momentum was sapped from the Idaho Steelheads over the weekend, courtesy of the Utah Grizzlies. The Steelheads blew a 4-2 lead Friday night in West Valley City, falling 5-4 in overtime. Then, after both teams bused to Boise Saturday, the Grizzlies disappointed a season-high crowd of 5,347 by getting past the Steelies in a shootout, 4-3. It marked the seventh one-goal game in 11 matchups this season between Idaho and Utah—this one dropped the Steelheads back into last place in the ECHL Mountain Division behind the Grizzlies. Defenseman Ryan Button, reassigned from Texas at the end of last week after three months with the AHL’s Stars, scored goals in both games versus Utah. The Steelies remain at home Wednesday night, hosting the Alaska Aces.
The Idaho Stampede are 2-0 with star guard Pierre Jackson out of uniform after winning a road thriller Saturday night, 129-128 over the L.A. D-Fenders. The Stampede are still short-handed, and they ran out of players with seven seconds left in the OT when Reggie Hearn was called for his sixth foul. So coach Mike Peck left Hearn in and took the requisite technical. Hearn then inbounded to Jason Ellis, who gave it right back to Hearn at the top of the circle. And Hearn made a leaning jumper at the buzzer for the win. The Stamps’ quick California swing wraps up tonight at Bakersfield.
A six-hour rain delay didn’t have much effect on Boise’s Brian Scott yesterday in his maiden voyage at the Daytona 500. Track mishaps did, though. Scott finished 25th after being involved in two crashes in his No. 33 Shore Lodge car, four laps behind winner Dale Earnhart Jr. Scott’s fifth-place finish Thursday in the Budweiser Duels leading up to Daytona counts as a Sprint Cup start, so he’s now tripled his appearances on the big circuit. Scott’s first Sprint Cup run was last October at Charlotte, where he finished 27th.
The Boise State men’s tennis team was on its game at the Blue Gray National Tennis Classic Friday in Montgomery, AL, over the weekend. After opening Friday with an impressive 4-0 shutout of Alabama, the defending champion Broncos avenged their first-round loss in the NCAA Tournament last year by upsetting 21st-ranked Clemson Saturday. Then came the championship match yesterday, and Boise State rallied after losing the doubles point to topple VCU, 4-2, for a second straight Blue-Gray title. Bronco freshman sensation Brendan McClain was named tournament MVP.
More campus stuff: the Boise State swimming and diving team won its second Mountain West championship in three years Saturday, outdistancing second place San Diego State by more than 100 points. The BSU gymnastics defeated San Jose State Friday night at Taco Bell Arena, scoring a 196.20. The Broncos have a marquee meet this Friday, hosting Iowa. The Boise State women’s basketball team held off UNLV 75-72 Saturday afternoon in Las Vegas to win for the ninth time in the last 11 games. And the Broncos’ Emma Bates set a school record in the 3,000 meters in the Alex Wilson Invitation at Notre Dame, winning the race against an elite field by running a 9:11.98.
The College of Idaho men’s basketball team, ranked fifth in NAIA Division II, won its 12th straight game by rallying from a 22-point first-half deficit to beat Northwest University 93-80 Saturday night. The Coyotes baseball team opened its home season by taking three of four games from Whitworth. The C of I women’s ski team earned a trip to the USCSA National Championships by finishing third Saturday in Regionals at Brundage Mountain. And congratulations to the Skyview High girls basketball team, winners of the 4A state championship Saturday night at the Ford Idaho Center. The Treasure Valley’s 5A title drought continues.
This Day In Sports…February 24, 1980:
The Boys of Winter put an exclamation point on the “miracle” and defeat Finland, 4-2, to give the United States the Olympic hockey gold medal at Lake Placid. It was two days after one of the biggest moments in American sports history, the 4-3 upset of the Soviet Union in the semi-finals. The USA had been seeded seventh but skated off with their first gold since the other “miracle” in 1960.
(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.)