‘We just wanted it more’: Boise State’s defense, rebounding spur win over New Mexico

Boise State had its fourth sellout of the season Saturday evening.

The faithful fans were treated to a good show.

O’Mar Stanley and Chibuzo Agbo posted double-doubles as the Broncos secured the season sweep over New Mexico with an 89-79 win in front of 12,184 fans at ExtraMile Arena. The victory allowed Boise State to keep pace with Utah State atop the Mountain West standings, and also clinched a first-round bye in the conference tournament.

The Broncos, who beat the Lobos 86-78 at The Pit in Albuquerque on Jan. 31, pulled away in the second half Saturday on the strength of their defense and rebounding. They outrebounded New Mexico 43-34 and turned 17 offensive rebounds into 18 second-chance points.

“I think we just wanted it more, to be honest,” Stanley said. “We focus on rebounding every day. It’s how we start our shootarounds. When we’re rebounding, we’re hard to beat.”

Stanley led the way with 24 points and 13 rebounds, his fifth double-double of the season. Agbo added 17 points and 12 boards for his first double-double. It was the first time two Boise State players finished a game with double-doubles since 2021.

The Broncos (21-8, 12-4) led just 35-33 at halftime but took control with a 10-2 run in the second half. It was capped by a 3-pointer from Tyson Degenhart that put the Broncos up 54-43. Degenhart finished with 23 points, marking the sixth time that he scored at least 20 in the past nine games

Boise State’s defense also deserved a lot of credit for the win. New Mexico point guard Donovan Dent, who put up 31 points against the Broncos at The Pit, was held to 11, most of which he scored in the second half. The Lobos’ leading scorer, the streaky-shooting Jaelen House, was limited to nine points. He was 2-for-12 from the floor, including 0-for-8 from 3-point range.

New Mexico (21-8, 9-7) also coughed up 11 turnovers, which the Broncos turned into 14 points.

“Our defense was outstanding,” Boise State coach Leon Rice said. “To keep those guys out of the paint, you can’t do it with one guy. You have to do it as a team.”

Both teams went on runs in the first half. Boise State used an 11-2 streak to take a 16-12 lead thanks to a 3-pointer from Agbo. New Mexico answered with a 9-2 run that was capped by a layup from freshman JT Toppin that put the Lobos up 21-20.

Toppin led New Mexico with 21 points and added eight rebounds. Jamal Mashburn Jr. scored 19 points.

Big picture: This was another good win for the Broncos, who have probably done enough to earn a third straight NCAA Tournament berth, but a few more Quad 1 wins certainly can’t hurt. This was Boise State’s sixth of the season.

“That puts us in elite company,” Rice said.

The Broncos and Utah State have identical 12-4 records in conference play, each with two games remaining. The Aggies play at San Jose State and host New Mexico; Boise State hosts Nevada and travels to San Diego State.

The top five seeds in the conference tourney, scheduled for March 13-16 in Las Vegas, get byes, something the Broncos have wrapped up. In their chase for the No. 1 seed, Utah State has the tiebreaker by virtue of its season sweep of Boise State.

Stat of the game: The Broncos shot 85% (22-for-26) from the free throw line, led by Stanley, who went 9-for-10. Degenhart from 5-for-6.

Up next: The Broncos host Nevada on Tuesday (9 p.m., FS1) for Senior Night before wrapping up the regular season at San Diego State on Friday.

Boise State women drop heartbreaker

The Boise State women’s basketball team dropped a heartbreaker Saturday in its final home game of the season, losing 67-66 to Air Force.

The Broncos erased an 11-point lead in the second half and looked liked they had done enough to seal the comeback win when Mya Hansen got a layup to drop for a 66-65 lead with 9.6 seconds left. But it wasn’t meant to be.

Air Force’s Milahnie Perry got a twisting, off-balance shot to fall with 3.5 seconds left. The Broncos had one last shot to steal the win and Natalie Pasco got an open look at the rim, but her short jumper bounced harmlessly off the backboard.

Boise State (19-11, 10-7 Mountain West) trailed 36-18 at halftime and 61-50 with 6:20 left in the game, but the Broncos went on a 12-0 run to take a 62-61 lead with 1:51 left in regulation.

Hansen couldn’t be stopped in the fourth quarter. She scored eight of the Broncos’ 12 points in the key run and finished the game with a season-high 26 points. Her career-high is 31 against BYU in December 2022.

Perry led Air Force with 23 points.

Boise State, which sits in fourth place in the Mountain West, wraps up the regular season Tuesday at Colorado State. The women’s conference tournament is March 10-13 in Las Vegas, and the top five seeds get byes.