BOISE, Idaho- It may have been Leon Rice's first game as head coach of the Boise State men's basketball team, but it was another debut performance that stole the show as the Broncos cruised to a 77-58 victory against Montana Tech in exhibition action, Friday, at Taco Bello Arena.
Freshman Jeff Elorriaga gave the Broncos a spark in his first action in a Boise State uniform. Elorriaga scored seven-straight Bronco points in the second half. The Portland, Ore., native and Jesuit High School product finished with 14 points on 6-of-8 shooting, all after halftime.
"He's a heady kid," Rice said. "Those Jesuit players, they know how to play. He's a gamer. He was a quarterback in high school, you can tell he's comfortable being in the spotlight. He did a great job, we were really proud of him."
Elorriaga had a different take on his emotions leading up to tip off.
"I've never sweated so hard in my life before a game," Elorriaga joked. "It was a lot of fun to see all the Bronco fans yelling for you. I couldn't have asked for more than that."
Those feelings did not go unnoticed by his teammates, and neither did his play on the floor.
"He was nervous before the game," Westly Perryman recalled after the game. "I was trying to keep him calm and relaxed. This is his first game playing division one basketball. I just told him, 'just come out relaxed and play your role.' He did more than just play his role. He stepped an extra level above that, and moved himself up with this team."
Perryman was another Bronco who raised his level of play. The redshirt-junior returned to the lineup after playing only eight games in 2009-10 before a season-ending injury. He took to the floor Friday like he never missed a beat. Perryman played 36 minutes, and pestered the Montana Tech ball handlers every second of the way. He came up with seven steals on the night, more than any Bronco recorded last season.
Seniors Daequon Montreal and Robert Arnold led the way for Boise State, scoring 17 and 15 points, respectively. Arnold started the scoring with a three-pointer 21 seconds into the game, and the Broncos never looked back.
The Orediggers trimmed the lead to nine, midway through the second half, before the Broncos took control with a 21-8 run.
Montreal and senior Zach Moritz shared the team lead with six rebounds, and senior Paul Noonan was the high assist man with five.
Rice and his staff used the game as an opportunity to see a number of different players take the floor, and in different combinations. In all, 11 Broncos saw action in the game with nine getting into the scoring column.
Dirk Anderson led Montana Tech with 15 points and a game-high 12 rebounds.
An attendance of 2,095 turned out to get their first glimpse at the new-look Broncos. Rice was pleased with the fans who turned out, and the potential Taco Bell Arena holds.
"You could kind of feel the crowd when things got going," Rice said. "It's a great arena, and if you put a lot of people in it, it will be a great home-court advantage."
Boise State returns to action with its final exhibition game Tuesday, Nov. 9, against Adams State at Taco Bell Arena. The regular season opens Saturday, Nov. 13, against Western State at Taco Bell Arena.