Senior La’Shard Anderson’s driving basket with one-tenth of a second to play saved Boise State’s season in an 83-80 victory last night over Austin Peay at Taco Bell Arena in the opening game of the College Basketball Invitational Tournament.
Anderson, who had been hounded all night by Peay’s Caleb Brown and did not play one of his better games, came through in the clutch after Brown had canned a shot with five seconds to play to give the Governors an 80-79 lead. Anderson’s winning basket gave the Boise State star 1,001 career points, as he joined teammate Paul Noonan in the exclusive club at Boise State.
Rather than call timeout, Boise State Coach Leon Rice elected to send Anderson slicing through the Governor defense for the winning shot. The ball caromed off the backboard, hit the rim and rolled through. Austin Peay called timeout when they didn’t have any, resulting in two Noonan free throws for the final margin.
This one wasn’t pretty for the Broncos in general, who were playing the game just three nights after an emotional rollercoaster experience in the Western Athletic Conference Tournament that saw them trounce New Mexico State Friday night only to see their dreams dashed by #17 Utah State Saturday night. Perhaps it is a testament of the ability of the Bronco players and their coaches that they could pull out a victory despite shooting 42.9% from the field in the first half while allowing their opponent to shoot 57.1%.
The Broncos seemingly had this one in command, opening up 10-point leads in the first half on two different occasions. But Austin Peay would bounce back both times. They weren’t going to go away and were determined to make this a barnburner. That it was. The Governors could not miss from the 10-15-foot range and the energetic opponents from Tennessee controlled the boards 42-25.
Yet the Broncos weren’t to be denied either. That isn’t the style of this Boise State team led by amazing first-year coach Leon Rice. The team that was out-shot and out-rebounded and whose star player was 3-9 until his last shot stayed in the game in much the same way they displayed to the nation in the WAC Tournament—through sheer determination and scrappy play.
Anderson’s winner punctuated a back-and-forth second half in which there were 12 lead changes. Austin Peay had actually grabbed a seven-point lead (78-71) with just six minutes to play. But a Noonan basket and free throw cut the lead to four and the Broncos, buoyed by an enthusiastic Taco Bell crowd, somehow found the energy to battle back to get the win.
Brown poured in 22 points in the first half but his late-game bucket gave Brown his only points of the second half. Josh Terry had 18 points in the second half for Austin Peay and finished with 23 points and 10 rebounds. John Fraley had nine points, 12 rebounds and five blocks for the Governors.
Senior forward Daequon Montreal led Boise State with 14 points while freshman Jeff Elorriaga canned four treys for 12 points and Anderson and Noonan had 10 each.
Boise State advanced its record to 21-12 with the victory while Austin Peay finished 20-14. Boise State will host Evansville, a 77-70 winner last night, in the second round of the CBI. Tip-off is set for 7 p.m. next Monday night in Taco Bell Arena.