Strong first half propels Boise State into the Mountain West championship

Posted at 1:34 AM, Mar 12, 2022

LAS VEGAS, Nevada — The Boise State Broncos defeated Wyoming 68-61 to advance to the championship game in the Mountain West Tournament in Las Vegas.

The Broncos jumped out to a 14-point halftime lead ignited by their defense and the play of Mladen Armus, Naje Smith and Abu Kigab.

Some of Boise State's biggest weapons didn't produce much in the first half Marcus Shaver Jr., Emmanuel Akot and Tyson Degenhart combined for just two points but the Broncos still drilled five first-half threes and showcased the team aspect we have talked about all season.

"So proud how our guys came out of the gate we came out with intensity and that defense we played in the first half was terrific we were just flying around," said head coach Leon Rice.

Wyoming Center Graham Ike didn't shake Mladen Armus's hand before the game and that proved to be a mistake.

Armus negated one of Wyoming's biggest advantages, Ike finished with 18, but the big man for Boise had 16 points, grabbed 13 rebounds and came up with four steals.

"It's a competition with one of the best centers in our league Ike is a great player and I wanted to give my all to help our team," said Armus.

Abu Kigab led Boise State with 22 points including three from downtown in the first half, Abu finished the game 4-8 from beyond the arc while adding six rebounds, four assists and three steals.

The Broncos also got a huge lift off the bench from Naje Smith who finished with ten points, Naje hit two big threes in the first half.

"I just try to bring the energy any way that I can whether that is on the court, on the bench or hyping the guys up," said Smith.

Boise State will attempt to win their first-ever Mountain West championship on Saturday against San Diego State who beat Colorado State, tip-off will be at 4:00 p.m. Idaho time.