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Boise State holds off Portland, 81-71

The Broncos use late free throws to close the door on a pesky Pilots team Saturday night.

Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports

Boise State started the game off slow, but the Broncos were able to keep the Pilots at bay with a 10-point road victory.

Anthony Drmic bounced back after a couple of disappointing games to lead the Broncos with 24 points. Nick Duncan (16 points), Mikey Thompson (14), and Lonnie Jackson (11) also reached double figures for Boise State.

The Broncos struggled to defend Portland's attacking offense in the first half. Just over three minutes into the game, Portland already held a 12-4 advantage. A wild two-minute shooting stretch (four three pointers and a Drmic layup) tied the ballgame at 21 apiece. Boise State then went scoreless for three minutes before finishing the half with a 43-40 lead.

BSU was able to navigate its way through the Portland 2-3 zone in the second half. Nick Duncan connected on a three pointer with 12:06 remaining to give the Broncos its largest lead of the game at 60-48.

Portland quickly answered. Alec Wintering, who finished with 26 points, continued to attack the rim and finish. Portland came into the game as the fifth-best three point shooting team in the country, but the relentlessness of the Portland guards kept the Pilots in the game.

The Broncos recaptured the momentum with two layups and a steal to push the Boise lead up to eight. Once again, Portland would crawl back. A Jazz Johnson layup with four minutes to go knotted it up at 69 apiece.

But the Boise State defense was able to close out the game. Portland was unable to convert a field goal in the last 4:09, and scored only two free throws in that stretch. The Broncos made its last nine free throws to ice the game.

The key to the Broncos victory was figuring out how to stop the Pilots offensive attack after easy buckets in the first half. Thanks to seven steals (two by Webb and Thompson) and contested shots, Boise State slowed down an impressive Portland offense.

BSU will finish off the non-conference season at home in Taco Bell Arena. The Broncos will take on Loyola Marymount (4-3), Oregon (6-1), Bradley (1-8), and UC Davis (4-3) before beginning Mountain West play. The matchup against Oregon will be huge for the Broncos, as it is yet another opportunity for Boise State to pick up a victory against a nationally-ranked team.