Idaho men open WAC Tournament with win over UMKC; BSU notes, Mountain West recaps

Idaho men’s basketball coach Don Verlin got his first WAC Tournament victory in his sixth trip as the Vandals knocked off Kansas City, 73-70.

“That feels awful good,” Verlin said.

Stephen Madison had 26 points and 17 rebounds to pace Idaho (15-17), which also got 18 points from Sekou Wiggs and 14 points from Glen Dean. The Vandals will face No. 1 seed Utah Valley (20-10) at 7 p.m. MT on Friday in the WAC semifinals.

The Idaho women (23-8), the defending WAC champions, defeated Chicago State 84-43 on Wednesday and will play New Mexico State in the semifinals at 1 p.m. MT Friday.

A few leftover notes from Boise State’s 83-52 win over San Jose State on Wednesday…

The Broncos held the Spartans to 28.3 percent shooting in the game, the lowest all season and lowest since Nevada shot 26.3 percent on Feb. 27, 2013.

“The team that’s going to win this team is the best defensive team and who plays great ‘D,’” Boise State coach Leon Rice said. “We know that. We’ve approached it the right way in the first game. Now we have to approach it the right way in the second game.”

The 14 points Boise State allowed were tied for third-fewest ever given up in a half in school history, and matched the fewest given up since allowing 14 on Nov. 27, 1998. San Jose State did not score in the first 8:43 and did not make its first field goal until 10:23 was left in the first half.
“We wanted to come out and make a statement with our defense,” junior Derrick Marks said.

After Boise State lost 64-61 in overtime at Air Force to finish the regular season Saturday, Rice challenged his team, saying “I’m going to figure out who is going to have confidence enough to go down and compete in the conference tournament and who is going to let it rip in down there.”

Considering the Broncos answered with a 25-0 start, mission accomplished.

“I challenged them because I know these guys,” Rice said. “I know the three years I’ve had them, they respond to the challenges. They don’t want me sugarcoating anything for them. I think every time I ever have challenged these guys, they step up.”

THURSDAY’S MOUNTAIN WEST MEN’S RECAPS
San Diego State 73, Utah State 39: The top-seeded Aztecs hammered the eighth-seeded Aggies, setting a new record for biggest win in a Mountain West Tournament game. The previous record existed for about 16 hours — Boise State’s 31-point win over San Jose State late Wednesday mark broke the previous record of 27. Utah State shot 29.3 percent from the field (including 1-of-10 on 3s) and San Diego State shot 52.5 percent. Xavier Thames had 15 points and Josh Davis had 13 points for the Aztecs (28-3). Jarred Shaw had 14 points for the Aggies (18-14).
UNLV 71, Wyoming 67: The Runnin’ Rebels had their hands full in their home building, but won the matchup of the fourth and fifth seeds. Bryce Dejean-Jones had 22 points to lead UNLV (20-12), and Roscoe Smith pitched in 18 points and 13 rebounds. Josh Adams had 24 points and seven rebounds to lead the Cowboys (18-14).
New Mexico 93, Fresno State 77: In a game that saw 66 free-throw attempts, defending Mountain West champion New Mexico never trailed and led by as much as 19 to advance to the semifinals. The Lobos (25-6) got 21 points and 10 rebounds from Cameron Bairstow, plus 21 points from Alex Kirk and 17 from Kendall Williams. Fresno State (17-16) was led by Allen Huddleston’s 18 points off the bench.
Boise State 75, Nevada 62: Check out my game story here.

Men’s schedule (all times MT, seeds in parentheses)
Wednesday

Game 1: (8) Utah State 73, (9) Colorado State 69
Game 2: (7) Fresno State 61, (10) Air Force 59
Game 3: (6) Boise State 83, (11) San Jose State 52
Thursday (all games on CBS Sports Network)
Game 4: (1) San Diego State 73, (8) Utah State 39
Game 5: (4) UNLV 71, (5) Wyoming 67
Game 6: (2) New Mexico 93, (7) Fresno State 77
Game 7: (6) Boise State 75, (3) Nevada 62
Friday (all games on CBS Sports Network)
Game 8: (1) San Diego State vs. (4) UNLV, 7 p.m.
Game 9: (2) New Mexico vs. (6) Boise State, 9:30 p.m.
Saturday
Game 10 (championship): Game 8 winner vs. Game 9 winner, 4 p.m. (CBS)

Women’s schedule (all times MT)
Monday

Game 1: (8) Utah State 69, (9) New Mexico 66
Game 2: (7) UNLV 78, (10) San Jose State 75
Game 3: (6) San Diego State 63, (11) Air Force 56
Tuesday
Game 4: (1) Colorado State 72, (8) Utah State (67)
Game 5: (5) Wyoming 61, (4) Boise State 56
Game 6: (2) Fresno State 80, (7) UNLV 65
Game 7: (3) Nevada 53, (6) San Diego State (48)
Friday (all games on Mtn. West Digital Network)
Game 8: (1) Colorado State 95, (5) Wyoming 92, 3OT
Game 9: (2) Fresno State vs. (3) Nevada, 3:30 p.m.
Saturday
Game 10 (championship): (1) Colorado State vs. Game 9 winner, 8 p.m. (CBS Sports Network)

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