March 12, 2015
LAS VEGAS (AP) - Boise State forward Nick Duncan spends most of his time banging in the paint. That is unless he feels like knocking down 3-pointers.
Thursday he was feeling it.
The 6-foot-8, 245-pound Australian hit 3-pointers and scored 23 points in No. 25 Boise State's 80-68 quarterfinal victory over Air Force in the Mountain West tournament.
''I think the first one or two shots, if they go in, especially the second half, I go on a roll,'' said Duncan, who was 7 of 15 from 3-point range and 8 of 18 overall including 7 of 15 from beyond the arc.
''It's a good feeling, they're going through the hoop (and) hopefully (I) get another shot and do the same thing.''
It was his third impressive performance against the Falcons this season. He was a combined 8 of 14 from the field - 8 of 13 from long range - in two regular-season meetings.
The top-seeded Broncos (25-7) used a 13-6 run over the final five minutes to pull away for the win, and will now face the winner of the Wyoming-Utah State matchup in Friday's semifinal.
Up 32-28 at halftime, Boise State raced to a 45-30 lead after limiting the Falcons to one field goal over the first 3 1/2 minutes. Air Force's Marek Olesinski hit two consecutive 3-pointers within 40 seconds to cut Boise State's lead to single-digits, but Duncan answered with a pair of 3s to push the Broncos' lead to 53-41 with 13:25 left.
Derrick Marks added 13 points for the Broncos, and Igor Hadziomerovic and Rob Heyer had 11 apiece.
''We knew coming in how talented they are and how well they shoot the basketball,'' Air Force coach Dave Pilipovich said. ''They didn't disappoint. They shot the ball really well.
''They got a great start to the beginning of the (second) half. That kind of separated us and kept their distance. We were able to manufacture some momentum, some runs. We cut it to I believe six ... then couldn't get any deeper than that.''
Olesinski led Air Force (14-17) with 14 points. Zach Kocur and Hayden Graham each had 13, and Trevor Lyons added 10.
''You get to the conference tournament, everybody's playing good, especially the teams that win - they played great yesterday (in the opening round),'' Boise State coach Leon Rice said. ''I was like, `Oh boy, here we go.' Their kids play so hard. They run one of the hardest systems to guard in the country. That's a tough task.''
Boise State: Duncan was 66 of 172 (38.3) from 3-point range during the regular season. His career high for 3-point field-goals made is eight, set Feb. 24 against New Mexico. His 15 attempts against Air Force was a new career-high
Air Force: Air Force is 3-16 in the Mountain West tournament and 0-14 in the quarterfinals.
Air Force has only lost twice this season (8-2) when shooting better than 50 percent from the field, and both losses came against Boise State.
Boise State coach Rice on how he found Duncan: ''I've got a great staff that does an unbelievable job recruiting, we've got two other Aussies on the team - Aussies attract Aussies. I have one on my coaching staff, too. Nick isn't even the best shooting Aussie we have. The one on my coaching staff (John Rillie) is the best shooter, without question.''
Boise State: The Broncos will face fourth-seeded Wyoming or fifth-seeded Utah State in the semifinals.
Air Force: Outside chance at invitation to either CBI or CIT. Otherwise, season over.