BOISE — The Boise State men’s basketball team saw a 16-point edge dissipate down to five in 5 minutes during the second half Tuesday.
A year ago, it meant things were headed for a bad result for the Broncos. But now, with a team that has plenty of contributors who saw late leads against good teams turn into defeats, they are prepared.
Boise State kept a feisty Oakland team at bay with an 88-80 win, never letting the Golden Grizzlies within a basket down the stretch.
“I felt confident that we were going to finish — compared to last year, I was always nervous,” Boise State guard Jeff Elorriaga said. “… That experience from last year really helped because that team was not going away.”
Elorriaga had a career-high 17 points, knocking down four 3-pointers in the win. He also was tasked with guarding Oakland’s Travis Bader, a junior who hit 124 shots from 3-point range last season and came into the game 17 points shy of 1,000 in his career.
Bader didn’t reach that mark Tuesday, as he was held to 13 points on 3-of-15 shooting, including 1-of-8 from 3-point range.
“The career-high for scoring was lost on me because of what he did defensively,” Boise State coach Leon Rice said. “He worked his tail off on one of the best shooters in the country.”
Tied 40-40 early in the second half, the Broncos went on a 22-6 run to get up 16 with 12 minutes, 56 seconds to go. The Golden Grizzlies chipped away, getting it down to 69-64 with 7:52 remaining, but two Derrick Marks jumpers and a pair of Anthony Drmic free throws got the lead back into double digits.
Oakland cut the lead to six points four times in the final minute, but the Broncos had only one turnover in the second half, and made 7-of-7 free throws in the last 46 seconds.
“We weren’t perfect by any means, but we managed it pretty well,” Rice said. “We didn’t have any turnovers there, and then they made their free throws — that’s what wins you those games.”
Drmic, in his second season with the Broncos, was one point shy of tying his career-high, scoring 25 points, and had his second career double-double by pulling down 10 rebounds. He also had five assists.
“That was the best game he’s played since he’s been here,” Rice said.
BOISE STATE 80, NORTH DAKOTA STATE 61: Lauren Lenhardt had yet another excellent game, scoring a game-high 21 points on 9-of-11 shooting for Boise State, pulling down nine rebounds in 20 minutes as Boise State rolled over North Dakota State.
The senior, a Eagle High graduate, had 19 points on 8-of-12 shooting with 12 rebounds in the Broncos’ season opener Friday.
“Lauren is a premier player, we’re fortunate to have her,” Boise State coach Gordy Presnell said. “Hopefully this season she becomes one of the greats … we have to give her as many opportunities as we can.”
Boise State (2-0) never trailed, holding North Dakota State (2-1) to 22-of-78 shooting from the field, including 5-of-26 on 3-pointers.
Of the 11 players the Broncos put on the floor Tuesday, only four had ever appeared in a game for Boise State prior to this season. Brandi Henton, a sophomore transfer from Yakima Valley College, had 14 points in 20 minutes off the bench. Freshman Miquelle Askew had six points and eight rebounds.
“Early on, coach defined roles for each of us — everyone knows their niche,” Lenhardt said. “We have so many new faces, we have great players, but how do we get everyone coming together? That’s let us do well.”