SACRAMENTO, California — Despite outrebounding Northwestern and having four starters in double figures, the Boise State Broncos lost their NCAA tournament game 75-67 to Northwestern in Sacramento.
It was a close game for most of the match. Although the Broncos never led in the game, Northwestern's lead hovered around five to ten points for most of the contest, with their largest lead reaching 12 at the most.
Max Rice was the Broncos' leading scorer with 17, although he took 19 shots to get it. The team's shooting percentage was the thing that hurt them the most. Shooting only 40% from the field, 26% from three, and missing five total free throws.
Although the season ended with a loss, getting to the tournament is a positive for the Broncos. For two seasons in a row they made it to the NCAA tournament, and finished first and second in the Mountain West conference, last season and this season respectively.
Optimistically, the team has Max Rice, Tyson Degenhart, and Chibuzo Agbo returning. Though Seniors Marcus Shaver Jr., Lukas Milner, and Naje Smith will be out of the line-up for the Broncos.
"It doesn't feel real yet," said Smith on how he's reflecting on the season."Still kind of processing all of the emotions and kind of just having plays in your head, playback through the whole year. But you just got to reflect in a positive way and take what you can from it."
Max Rice is the same age as Smith, Shaver, and Milner. Their departure and Rice having the opportunity to come back hits him differently.
"It's tough to even talk about," Rice said. "Naje is like a brother to me. I'm going to miss him probably more than any teammate I've ever had, and Shaver's right there with him, and so is Milner. I'm definitely going to miss those guys a lot."
Head Coach Leon Rice is proud of what his team did, not only on Thursday night but throughout the season.
He says one of the team's main issues, depth, should be better next year.
"We've got a terrific nucleus coming back. Probably three all-league players coming back, and some great freshmen coming in and they'll be some more. We're going to be pretty special, but that's for tomorrow."