Doutrive

Boise State’s Devonaire Doutrive attempts a shot as Lukas Milner (25) looks on during a 60-50 win over Ole Miss at the Charleston Classic on Sunday.

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The finish was so impressive that even coach Leon Rice didn’t realize just how good it was.

Boise State closed the game on a 21-4 run and made big plays down the stretch to top Ole Miss 60-50 on Sunday afternoon on the final day of the Charleston Classic.

The Broncos, who went 2-1 in the tournament, held Ole Miss scoreless in the final five minutes and to just four points and one field goal in the final 9:35 of the game.

“Wow, I didn’t realize the stat was that, but I knew we were getting a lot of stops in a row,” Rice said. “I’ve had a lot of hope and respect for our defense. I think we’re pretty good defensively and you can think that but until you are in the battles and you are tested against good teams — which we certainly were tested here against good teams — and our defense held up.”

Marcus Shaver Jr. had 13 points and hit a couple huge shots late in the game, Abu Kigab had 12 points and Mladen Armus added 11 points and 13 rebounds for the Broncos, who won the final two games of the tournament after losing a heartbreaker 67-61 to No. 22 St. Bonaventure on Thursday.

Boise State started just 3-17 from the field and trailed 27-21 at the half before batting back and surging forward with an impressive final 10 minutes.

The comeback was ignited by freshman Tyson Degenhart, who scored three straight buckets — including a 3-pointer from the top of the key — to turn a 5-point deficit into a 48-46 lead with 6:51 to go in the game.

“It feels great,” Degnhart said. “I’m still trying to find my role on this team so with that I just have to stay ready for any chance I get in the game and today I was able to make a little impact on the game.

“We just trusted each other to make the right play. The ball ended up in my hands, but I don’t want to take credit for making them. It was my teammates setting me up.”

Boise State trailed 46-39 and the game appeared to be slipping away Kigab scored to pull the Broncos within five at 46-41 with 9:04 to play.

That’s when Degenhart went to work. First he scored on the inside, and then drilled a 3-pointer on Boise State’s next possession to tie the game at 46.

He scored again on Boise State’s next possession, this time on a tough layup in traffic, to give the Broncos their first lead of the game.

“I think the players have a lot of belief in him,” Rice said. “He puts in a lot of time shooting the ball. … He makes winning plays and not just buckets. He’s taken some charges for us. He’s coming along.”

After Ole Miss tied the game, Shaver Jr. followed with a 3-pointer and another bucket to push Boise State’s lead to 53-48 with 5:45 to play. He then sealed the game with a driving bucket at the end of the shot clock to put them Broncos up 59-50 with just 1:40 to play.

Shaver Jr. has scored in double figures in all four games after missing the first game of the season due to a hand injury.

“I definitely feel a lot more comfortable out there and my hand is feeling good and I’m definitely getting my rhythm back,” Shaver Jr. said.

Asked about being the closer to finish out the game with some big buckets down the stretch, Shaver Jr. said, “I love it. That’s what I do. I just go out there and take what the game gives me, whether that’s scoring or getting my teammates involved. I just try and make the right play for our team to win.”

Maybe the most encouraging thing from Sunday’s win? Boise State had 17 turnovers, made just 10 of 21 free throws and shot 29 percent from 3-point range — and still beat the No. 55 ranked team at KenPom by double digits.

The Broncos already appear remarkably improved from the start of the season two weeks ago — and they’ve jumped 22 spots at KenPom from No. 80 to No. 58. They now head into a stretch of winnable games at home — starting Friday night against CSU-Bakersfield at 7 p.m.

It was a long trip back to Boise for the Broncos on Monday — but they’ve got plenty of reasons to feel pretty good.

“Oh no doubt about it,” Rice said. “We put a lot into this tournament. … To get out of here 2-1 and not only 2-1 but the way we played, I don’t think this team is happy about moral victories, we feel like we can go toe-to-toe with St. Bonaventure and we did, but they won the last four minutes. But we learned and we got better and hopefully we get another shot at them at some point.”

That would likely have to come in the NCAA Tournament in March. Boise State would be just fine with that.

B.J. Rains has covered Boise State athletics for the Idaho Press since 2013 and is a three-time winner of the NSMA Idaho Sportswriter of the Year Award. He appears on KTIK 93.1 FM The Ticket every Friday at 4 p.m. for the Blue Turf Sports report.

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