For a few minutes, Boise State coach Leon Rice thought his team might have lost another heartbreaker Saturday night against UNLV. Deville Smith’s 3-pointer at the buzzer initially was ruled as good with Boise State leading 91-90 in overtime. A review said it didn’t get off in time, and Rice rejoiced. Check the video above for it.
Some called it classless (see the tweet below), many thought it was the sort of unbridled emotion that has made Rice beloved in Boise. Immediately after the game, Rice had a slight bit of remorse since the reaction was right after being face-to-face with UNLV coach Dave Rice.
“I kind of it lost it, I didn’t want to disrespect Dave (Rice) in any way because he coached a heck of a game,” Leon Rice said. “… I want our guys to passionate about it, and I was probably overcome with a little emotion for them.”
The Twitter account of the UNLV students’ section, the Rebellion, did not take kindly to the reaction. It should be noted the Broncos didn’t mind — Anthony Drmic “favorited” the tweet.
After scoring four points in regulation, Derrick Marks was Boise State’s star in overtime, scoring all 13 of the Broncos’ points on 5-for-5 shooting and 2-for-2 shooting at the free-throw line.
That was the sort of performance Marks has shown in prior late-game scenarios — he had 28 and 33 points, respectively, in the second half in wins at Creighton and against Colorado State last season. Even this season, there was the 27 points (including 15-of-16 free throws) in the second half of a win over Idaho, and 16 points in the last 20 minutes against Utah State in another win.
But there also have been more scrutinized moments in losses, namely missing a potential game-winning shot at San Diego State on Jan. 8, going 0-for-2 from the field and 0-for-2 on free throws in the last two minutes in a loss at UNLV on Feb. 1, and going 1-for-8 in the last 6:21 in the Feb. 5 loss to then-No. 5 San Diego State.
“He’s a courageous kid, because there’s been a couple he’s missed and he takes some heat for it, but in the end, I think there’s not a lot of guys I’d rather have shooting that at that time and that place,” Rice said.
Marks moved into 10th place in school history in scoring with his game-winning fadeaway with 3.3 seconds left, as he now has 1,211 career points. On Saturday, Rice had praise for Marks’ heroics, and his ability to move on from those last few rough finishes.
“He didn’t start out great … maybe the younger Derrick couldn’t have flipped it, and the more mature Derrick is handling it and flipped it,” Rice said. “It’s not like we’re playing someone who can’t guard. Those guys can guard, so for him to do that in the second half is pretty darn impressive.”
The crazy finish and Marks’ incredible overtime overshadowed a pretty impressive performance inside for the Broncos. Senior Ryan Watkins had a season-high 22 points and 15 rebounds, while freshman Nick Duncan had 12 points. Boise State had 56 points in the paint against a UNLV lineup that includes 6-foot-8 Roscoe Smith, 6-9 Khem Birch and 6-10 Christian Wood.
“Him and Nick did some good work down there, and it was certainly encouraging,” Rice said.
Watkins, who in this reporter’s opinion is worthy of first-team all-Mountain West honors, is now averaging 11.3 points and 10.9 rebounds per game. He is fourth in school history with 746 rebounds, and is now 30 points shy of becoming the 25th 1,000-point scorer in school history.
“It doesn’t matter who’s on the other side, Ryan’s going to come to play and he’s going to play hard,” Marks said. “With the stuff he’s doing, it sounds bad, but I expect that out of him … he keeps on surprising the world.”
The final shot by Smith went up, and as the final buzzer sounded and the clock hit 0.0, the red lights that surround the backboard did not go off. Apparently, there was a blown fuse on that basket, while the lights went off on the other basket. Still, the clock was what mattered, and was clearly visible in a replay. Referee Randy McCall spoke to the Idaho Press-Tribune’s BJ Rains, who served as pool reporter after the game.
“It doesn’t matter,” McCall said. “By rule, and I can read the rule to you. Rule 11, section 1, article 2, in games with tenth of a second game clock display and where an official courtside monitor is used, reading of zeros on the game clock is to be used to determine whether a try for goal, shot clock violation or foul occurred before the expiration of time in any period. When the game clock is not visible, but in this case it was visible, when it is not visible, the official shall verify the original call with the use of red LED lights. Third, when the lights are not visible, we may use a game horn.”
FOX 5 in Las Vegas posted this image early Sunday morning, showing the ball barely in Smith’s fingertips as the other backboard is lit up.
Check out my game story from last night here.