SAN JOSE, Calif. – One rebound and Boise State probably is playing for a Mountain West title on Tuesday night.
One rebound. One stinking rebound.
The Broncos couldn’t get it – they couldn’t get many at all on Saturday night so it was fairly fitting – and the result was a disappointing 74-68 overtime loss at San Jose State on Saturday afternoon.
Boise State gave up 21 offensive rebounds, the most in 13 years under Leon Rice, including one with eight seconds left that led to a free throw that pushed the game into overtime.
The Broncos were outscored 16-4 in the final 8:17 of regulation to allow San Jose State to force overtime, where they took the lead early and never gave it back in a frustrating finish for the Broncos.
“We couldn’t get a rebound,” Boise State coach Leon Rice told Bronco Nation News. “We had to be a little more physical and we weren’t physical enough to be able to get it done.
“They just shoved us under and they were too strong for us. We probably got worn down a little bit physically, but you give up 21 offensive rebounds on the road and you aren’t going to win.”
Boise State was out-rebounded 53-32 overall. The Broncos entered the game as the No. 8 defensive rebounding team at KenPom.com, but let the Spartans get 21 offensive rebounds – which they turned into 15 second-chance points.
“We had some really good defensive possessions down the stretch that ended in offensive rebounds,” Rice said. “It’s all for nought if you can’t get the board and we had too many of those.
“They kind of bullied us on both ends. They were physical and they got us on our heals. I don’t know if we ran out of gas or what, but they turned up the heat on us and we weren’t able to respond.”
Boise State led 58-57 when San Jose State’s Omari Moore missed a short shot with eight seconds left. But Robert Vaihola grabbed the offensive rebound and was fouled when putting up a shot with six seconds left. He made one of two free throws, and Boise State couldn’t convert before time ran out and the game went to overtime.
San Jose State scored the first five points in overtime and led throughout the final five minutes, handing Boise State a disappointing but not season-crushing loss. The Quad 2 loss hurts Boise State’s chances a bit of winning the Mountain West, but did little to hurt Boise State’s chances of making the NCAA Tournament.
“That’s the thing we had written down to win the game tonight, rebounding,” said Chibuzo Agbo, who led the Broncos with 17 points. “ We didn’t do that tonight – 21 offensive rebounds, it’s hard to win a game when that happens. We can’t let it happen again.”
Asked if the Broncos may have overlooked the Spartans with first-place San Diego State coming to Boise on Tuesday, Agbo said, “We could have been more locked in for sure. I think we were a little amped up for the next game.”
Marcus Shaver Jr. added 14 points, Tyson Degenhart had 13 and Max Rice had 12 for the Broncos, who shot 41.5 percent from the field.
Making things worse, first place San Diego State won on a 3-pointer at the buzzer later Saturday night at New Mexico to take a 2-game lead with just two games remaining. The Broncos host San Diego State on Senior Night Tuesday at 7 p.m. at ExtraMile Arena. A win would pull the Broncos within one game with one game to play – but it would also cement their spot in the NCAA Tournament.
“This league is tough,” Rice said. “We kick ourselves because we were in a real good position. We’ll look at everything we did and try to be better. We have another great rebounding team coming in Tuesday.
“We need it sold out. These guys have been battling their tails off.”