Northridge, CA- Last season ended in disappointment for Boise State as they just missed an at large berth in the NCAA tournamen, their first since the 2015 season. The Broncos have been tested this season with tough losses to possible tournament teams in St. Bonaventure and Saint Louis. They walk into the Matadome Tuesday evening with a home victory over Tulsa.
The CSUN Matadors have had a shaky start to the 2021-22 campaign. Matadors head coach Mark Gottfried is currently on paid administrative lead, as he and his staff are under investigation for a recruiting violation during his time at N.C. State. In the meantime, Trent Johnson is serving as the interim HC and is doing his best to fill in and lead this team to the best season they can have. CSUN just lost to a Mountain West opponent in Fresno State last Saturday and this matchup ended in the same fashion for the team as they were defeated by Boise State 74-48.
From the opening tip, it was clear that Boise State was on another level than CSUN. Broncos Head Coach Leon Rice, the former Gonzaga assistant, implored a full court press to speed up CSUN and disrupt their offensive timing. The strategy worked as his team got off to a hot start taking an 11-0 lead within the game’s first four minutes. This early game run was highlighted by fifth year Oregon transfer Abu Kigab who scored six points and had a dunk coming off an offensive rebound. As the first half progressed, the Broncos seemingly were getting whatever they wanted on offense whether the Matadors were in man or zone defense. The ball movement from Arizona transfer Emmanuel Akot proved to be a big advantage to the team as he did a good job finding cutting teammates in back door plays and off improvisation. Akot finished the night with a game high seven assists.
CSUN was the opposite in their halfcourt sets, not getting much penetration to the basket and looking stagnant in their ball movement. The 6’8” Akot and the 6’7” Kigab played a big part in that challenge with their length and active hands. When CSUN did have open an open shot, it still wouldn’t go in and they shot (8-of-24) 33.3 percent from the field. BSU shot (16-of-28) 57.1 percent in the first half and entered halftime with a 38-21 lead.
The Broncos didn’t let up to start the second half using their full court press on the first few defensive possessions in hopes to control the pace once again. The Matadors seemed to be rattled again and got impatient once they were on defense, picking up five quick fouls, mostly on reach-ins in the first four minutes. Despite another slow start to the half, the Matadors showed some pride and continued to battle and cut the deficit to 10 points towards the middle of the half. Northern Illinois transfer Darius Beane came out confident and aggressively attacked the basket trying to force a comeback. Trent Johnson also wanted to get big man Onyi Eyisi some more touches on the block. Eyisi played tougher in this stretch of the game as well and ended the night with a team high in both points (12) and rebounds (6). Even with the slight pushback from CSUN, Boise State was able to seize momentum back thanks to a smooth looking triple from the 6’7” forward Tyson Degenhart. He displayed his offensive skill set, with crafty moves on the low post, followed by his shooting ability from 3-point territory, going (3-of-5) and scoring 21 points to lead his team. Degenhart jump-started a decisive run that the Broncos didn’t look back on and went up 61-35. Boise State finished the game the way they started and found themselves with their first true road win of the season.
The Boise State Broncos (5-4, 0-0) travel back home for a game against Prairie View A&M of the SWAC. The CSUN Matadors (3-5, 0-0) head out to Fargo for a contest with North Dakota State of the Summit League.