Game Recap: Boise State 74, New Mexico 61
Williams ties career-high with 26 points, adds 17 rebounds
Senior Day goes off without a hitch as Broncos stampede New Mexico
For a team with as much experience as Boise State has, Senior Day was always going to be a special evening.
For Broncos senior RJ Williams, it was one last chance to put on a career performance in front of the home fans in Boise.
Williams tied his career-high with 27 points and pulled down 16 rebounds, spurring his team to a 74-61 win at ExtraMile Arena on Sunday afternoon. The forward was nearly perfect on Sunday, making 11 of 14 shots while also posting a perfect mark at the free throw line.
Fellow senior Justinian Jessup finished with 15 points and added another trio of three-pointers to his ledger, further extending his Mountain West all-time record for triples. The prolific shooter also added five rebounds and a team-leading four assists on the day.
Derrick Alston Jr. scored 17 points for Boise State, coming off the bench in deference to seniors Alex Hobbs, Marcus Dickinson, and Robin Jorch. That said, while he is just a junior, Alston could be forgiven for stealing some of the spotlight on Sunday—the guard has long been discussed as a professional prospect, thanks to a breakout year last season.
If this was his last game in Boise, he made it memorable.
Some of Boise’s seniors didn’t get the memo.
While Hobbs, Dickinson, and Jorch were all in the starting lineup and remained on the floor until the first media timeout, none of the three were very effective in their final game in front of the home fans. The trio combined to score just four points on 1-for-12 shooting.
Still, even as those elder statesmen struggled, Leon Rice watched as the rest of his team came together to secure an 11th league victory. With the win, the Broncos remained just a half-game behind Utah State and Nevada for second place in the Mountain West standings.
The result provides even further contrast between the top six in the MW and the bottom five.
And New Mexico is squarely in the second camp now.
The Lobos have now dropped four straight since beating Wyoming at The Pit on February 8, and have lost nine of their past eleven games. If the beginning of New Mexico’s season was a fairy tale, then the back half has been the panicked journal entries of a sailor lost at sea.
Paul Weir’s roster has been decimated by on- and off-the-court issues since their 15-3 start. This most recent loss drops them to just a half-game lead over Fresno State for the #7 seed in the upcoming Mountain West Tournament.
Vance Jackson did his part to try to keep New Mexico alive in this game, pouring in a team-high 19 points and seven rebounds. Jackson was joined in double-figure scoring by only one other Lobo, Keith McGee, who finished with twelve points.
The Lobos will be happy to put Boise in their rear-view mirror as they prepare for the final week of the regular season, before heading to Las Vegas for the Mountain West Tournament. They will be guaranteed to be among the first-round contestants, solidifying their place in the league’s bottom six this week with losses to Nevada and Boise State.
The Broncos will get an early taste of next week’s tournament venue when UNLV hosts Boise State on Wednesday at the Thomas & Mack Center. A Boise State win would clinch a first-round bye for the blue and orange. And with just one game remaining in the regular season, Leon Rice and the Broncos will be watching from home on Saturday for the final Mountain West gameday.
The Lobos finish the season with a trip to Clune Arena to do battle with Air Force, before finally heading home for their own Senior Day on February 29 against Utah State. It’s hard to know just how much is left in the tank for a team that has had a difficult season, both physically and mentally. But a win over the Aggies at The Pit would certainly be a nice send-off for seniors JaQuan Lyle and Corey Manigault.
Andrew is a current USBWA member, covering college basketball for multiple outlets, including Mountain West Wire of the USA TODAY Sports Media Group and Busting Brackets of the FanSided Network. He also runs the Dieckhoff Power Index, a college basketball analytics system, and provides bracketology predictions throughout the season.