Ryan Watkins scored 18 points to pace a balanced Boise State attack, as the Broncos held off the visiting Evansville Purple Aces in a College Basketball Invitational tournament (CBI) quarterfinal contest Monday night. The Broncos earned a spot in the CBI semifinals Wednesday night with the victory. Senior forward Daequon Montreal scored 14 points, fellow senior La’Shard Anderson added 11, and junior guard Westly Perryman chipped in 10 points for the Broncos. All three players were instrumental in helping Boise State fend off a game Evansville team in the second half.
Trailing 30-23 at the half, the Purple Aces steadily chipped away at the Broncos’ lead. Evansville got within 40-38 at the 14:14 mark when sophomore guard Ned Cox hit two free throws. Kenny Harris drilled a three-pointer at the 9:09 mark to stake Evansville to a 50-48 lead. If not for Montreal scoring eight points during the opening stretch of the second half, the Broncos may have found themselves trailing by a greater margin.
Perryman stepped up for the Broncos at this point, scoring five of his team’s next seven points. Perryman sank two free throws and Montreal scored on a putback to give a Boise State a 52-50 lead. The Purple Aces knotted the score on their following possession, but Perryman converted a three-point play to break the 52-52 tie. Evansville got as close as 55-54, and within three points on several other occasions, but an experienced Boise State team responded each time. La’Shard Anderson went 5-of-6 from the free throw line in the final 2:19 of the game, securing the win for the Broncos.
That the game was ever close is a testament to the Purple Aces’ resolve. Not only did Evansville’s leading scorer Colt Ryan misfire on all but 3-of-9 shots from the field, but the Purple Aces shot just 22.2 percent (4-of-18) from the field in the opening stanza. Evansville rallied in the second half, outscoring Boise State 46-45.
As resolute as Evansville was, Boise State, a team with seven seniors on its roster, was equally, if not more determined. Nowhere was this more evident than at the free throw line during the second half, as the Broncos sank 22-of-26 freebies with the game in the balance. The Broncos improved to 21-12 with the win, and will face Central Florida, 66-54 winners over Rhode Island, in a CBI semifinal showdown Wednesday night. Ned Cox led the Purple Aces with 17 points while Kenny Harris scored 16 points, and Denver Holmes chipped in 13 points. Evansville finished the season 16-16.