Boise State UC Irvine Basketball01.JPG

Boise State guard Alex Hobbs (34) drives the ball down the court during the game against UC-Irvine last Friday at ExtraMile Arena in Boise.

BOISE — Boise State basketball coach Leon Rice went back and graded each of the Broncos’ possessions from last Friday’s 69-60 loss to UC Irvine.

The Broncos had 11 F’s in their first 16 possessions, which resulted in the Broncos falling behind by 15 points in the first half.

“I don’t know any courses you pass if you get 11 F’s in your first 16 grades,” Rice said. “Had half of those been good possessions, then you’re in the game and then when you make your run, it could be a different result.”

Boise State (1-2) made just 3 of 18 shots to start the game and committed six turnovers in the first half. The Broncos fell behind 6-0 and didn’t really recover. They never held a lead in the game and trailed by double digits for nearly the entire game.

Rice pointed to shot selection and in particular, players getting impatient and forcing bad shots up to try and do things themselves as a big reason for the loss. Ball movement and making the extra pass to find the open shooter is a staple of Boise State’s offense, and will maybe be more important with this team than others Rice has had.

“We played a good team that doesn’t let you do what you want to do so you have to fight to do it and stay with it,” Rice said. “Our answer was, let’s break away and let’s do it ourselves. We don’t have those kind of players or that kind of team. We have to make each other better and we will.”

One of those players was Derrick Alston Jr., who was just 4 of 14 from the field and settled for a number of long, guarded 3-pointers. He made 2 of his 8 attempts from 3-point range, and they both came in the second half.

“You look at this path of where he’s been and he didn’t even experience this in high school when it comes to being the guy, so it’s new for him,” Rice said. “He wants to help his team and go make plays for them...(but) he has to have a better understanding. His answer was ‘let me just go do it for you guys’ and he has to make them all better (by doing more than just shooting).”

Boise State has made just 10 of 44 shots from 3-point range the past two games. They were 0 for 9 from behind the arc in the first half against UC Irvine.

“It’s been horrendous at the start and the biggest reason it’s so bad is the shot selection,” Rice said. “And not just the guys shooting the shots. It’s what we’re doing to get those shots and we’re not doing what we need to do to get good shots. If we get good shots we’ll make them, I know that.

“When you get 11 F’s in your first 16 possessions, we’re not getting good looks and you’re not going to make those. The team that gets the better, easier shots is going to win the game. That wasn’t us in the first 16 possessions. We had awful possessions. We’ll get to it. Guys are working hard and we’re holding them to it and when we do, our style will be really hard to play against.”

Boise State has already faced two NCAA Tournament teams from a year ago in Oregon and UC Irvine, and BYU is a team that could be there this season. The Cougars are 3-1 and coming off a 72-71 road win at Houston in which senior TJ Haws hit the game-winning shot at the buzzer.

“I don’t think anyone would have predicted they would have gone down there and won that game,” Rice said. “So they are feeling great about themselves.”

Rice said RJ Williams would play after he fell hard on his wrist in the loss to UC Irvine.

“I was really worried,” Rice said. “But he’s fine.”

It’s going to be the first meeting between Boise State and BYU in 11 years.

BRONCO WOMEN HOST WASHINGTON STATE

The Boise State women’s basketball team will host Washington State at 5 p.m. at ExtraMile Arena before the men take on BYU.

The Broncos (3-1) are coming off an 83-81 road win at UAB in a consolation game for the preseason WNIT. Boise State trailed by 11 in the first quarter before storming back.

Riley Lupfer made history in the game, setting Boise State’s all-time 3-point record with her 261st career made 3-pointer.

“She’s a great shooter and plays with a lot of confidence,” Boise State coach Gordy Presnell said. “She really doesn’t care. I’ve never really had anyone that was so focused in on just wanting to win. The accolades have come because of her humility and her wanting to win and her teammates respecting her. She’s just done a great job for this program and I’m really, really proud of her.”

Lupfer made five 3s in the game and has made at least five 3s in each of the past three games. She leads the Broncos with 16.0 points per game this season.

Mallory McGwire ranks second on the team in scoring at 15.0 points per game while leading the team with 8.0 rebounds per game. The Oregon transfer wasn’t allowed to shoot 3-pointers for the Ducks — she attempted just one in two years there — but is 6 of 10 from beyond the arc through four games.

The 6-foot-5 center made 4 of 5 from 3-point range against UAB last Friday.

“I had one and I bricked it and then I got benched right after that,” McGwire said of her time at Oregon. “It’s a big change here being able to actually have that opportunity to shoot it. It’s different...it’s something I’ve been working on for quite a while so it’s fun to actually be able to shoot them.”

Boise State is seeking payback against Washington State (2-0) after the Cougars dominated them a year ago in a 95-71 blowout loss for the Broncos in Pullman.

Guard Borislava Hristova, who had 30 points in last year’s win against Boise State, is averaging 23.0 points per game so far this year. Washington State hasn’t played in 11 days after beating Pepperdine and BYU to start the year.

“We don’t get blown out very often, really at all,” Lupfer said. “We’ve been talking about it for a year, so it’s nice to finally maybe get some revenge.”

Fans who attend the women’s game can stay and watch the men’s game against BYU for free, and those purchasing tickets before halftime of the women’s game can take advantage of the discounted ticket rate of $6 for adults and $4 for juniors and seniors.

B.J Rains has covered Boise State athletics for the Idaho Press since 2013. He is an Associated Press Top 25 men's basketball poll voter, and also contributes to KBOI-TV as a Boise State insider.

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