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March 13, 2019

Leon Rice

Zach Haney

Derrick Alston

Las Vegas, Nevada

Boise State - 66, Colorado State - 57

THE MODERATOR: We're joined by Boise State head coach Leon Rice and student-athletes Zach Haney and Derrick Alston. Coach, an opening comment.

COACH RICE: I love the way our guys approached this game. We came out with a really good defensive intensity and held a team that's been really, really scoring well, Colorado State, to 57 points. And did a pretty good job overall on one of the best rebounders, one of the best consistent scorers in the league with Carvacho.

And I think the big guys did a great job of banging around in there, and Zach really went to work early and kind of got us good momentum like we did Saturday. But I just really like the way we defended and rebounded.


Q. To get the monkey off your back and win a tournament for the first time in four years and live to fight another day, what are your thoughts right now?
COACH RICE: Again, like I said, I was really proud of our guys. We really battled and I think we kind of had some really, really good moments where we played good on offense and defense. But I just liked our approach.

And we had a good mojo to us and made simple plays. And we competed. And in a game like that that's what you've got to do to come down get the win.

Q. Largest deficit one point the whole game. Pretty much led the start to finish. Even when you're up 14 in the last few minutes, it's never easy for you guys. Did the seconds feel like hours?
COACH RICE: I'm getting a little more comfortable with it. But you're right. But that's -- these guys got to keep an edge to them and they did. And they did a good job managing down the stretch to the end. And a couple of possessions they banged in a 3, and then there's a foul with two seconds to go on the shot clock. That kind of keeps things alive. If we don't foul there, he misses it, we rebound, they probably stop fouling. And that's usually it. You've just to learn from that and move forward.

Q. Colorado State's 57 points was the fewest they've scored all season. What were the adjustments you made to have such a strong defensive performance?
COACH RICE: It was their mindset. These guys have that mindset to come down here and guard. That's who's going to win the tournament -- the team that guards the best. I think these guys had a good approach to it.

Q. Zach, you've had four straight games in double figures. Almost led the team in scoring tonight. What's kind of been the edge for you these last few games?
ZACH HANEY: I just know that my time here is kind of winding down, just trying to give it all I got. It's my last ride, it's my last time in the tournament and I just want to give everything that I've got left in my tank for my teammates and just win as many games as we can and win this tournament.

Q. Building off that, Zach, you've been assertive early in the last two games. I'm just curious, is it more than just determination for your last couple of games? It just seems like you're making a really conscious effort to get involved pretty early in the last two games?
ZACH HANEY: I'm just playing with confidence, taking my time, just going out there, like I said, and giving it all for my teammates. But we stress a lot, no slow start. If I have to be that guy that gets the team going at first, I'm just going to do what ever I can.

Q. Leon, you were preaching about your team's defensive effort today. And there was a point in the game in the second half where it was a two-point game and it could have slipped to the oh-no mode again. I think you hit them with a 17-3 run and really put the game away. Given all you've been through this season, at this point in time how encouraging is it to see the seniors do that?
COACH RICE: It was a great response. You knew that Colorado State wasn't going to just go in at the half and roll over. They were going to come out and compete. And they did. And they made a run at us and these guys responded.

I thought D.A.'s kickout to Marcus was a great play, and we read everything right. And we just made the right plays at the right time and got the lead back to seven, eight, nine again, and that's where it kind of stayed.

Q. D.A., you led the way with 17 today. What was the key to your success out there?
DERRICK ALSTON: Just sticking with it. I felt like I didn't have a great first half, but that's kind of something that I've worked on and just staying with it. And getting to the free-throw line was big. And teammates kept confidence in me and coaches just, keep playing within the offense and it was going to come.

Q. You talked after the last game kind of had nothing to lose going into this tournament, no pressure on you guys, nobody expecting you to do anything. For the players, did it feel like that, were you able to come out there, just relax and play basketball? Or how did it feel out there in this one?
ZACH HANEY: I mean, I wouldn't necessarily say we were relaxed. But our backs are kind of against the wall right now. We know anything's possible in this tournament.

Like I've stressed over and over again, this team has a lot of fight left in us. And we're going to give that until the clock hits zero.

Q. Leon, you started both big guys again. Obviously, like you said, you held Carvacho to five rebounds. Something must have worked. What were your thought I guess in rolling with that again? And defensively you did play a lot of zone, which was also part of your success.
COACH RICE: Both of those. But in the zone, those guys gotta be accountable for blocking out and for keeping a body on him, because he's relentless.

And, I mean, that's probably got to be his season-low rebounding, I guess. He didn't get one offensive rebound. That's a credit to these guys. That's attention to detail that they do blocking out every time, because that's a weapon.

Usually he gets six to eight to 10 to 12 points just off putbacks. And to take that out of their offense, you know, really hurts them. We played so good, I wanted to keep running it.

Q. Derrick, once again, once it got to the two-point game at 42-40, I think it was just (indiscernible) loose ball and he found you in the corner. You've been in those moments where you see those leads maybe slip away from you so many times this year, are you almost comfortable in these situations now? Because it just seems like you guys were able to respond at that moment.
DERRICK ALSTON: Yeah, we've been through it all year. You have to figure it out eventually. We knew that when that happens, we just have to stay together and get closer. That was a great find by Jay to hit me in the corner, and to spark that run and kind of finish the game off that.

COACH RICE: That was a big shot, no doubt about it, at a time where we needed it. And that's what you have to do in a tournament. Like I said, nobody is going to roll over. Everybody's playing for their lives. And you have to be able to respond to those challenges. And they did it. These guys did.

Q. Leon, there's a number of times where we've seen a team play on day one, go and get a team on day two of this tournament. And a little bit of a unique circumstance. You know who you're playing tomorrow. Most of the time the Mountain West Tournament, you kind of have to wait and see?
COACH RICE: We haven't been playing on day one. We finished in the top three four straight years, and so this was new for us. So far I like it. Not going to try to do it again but I like it. And we like playing -- it's great playing the first game. It's 11:00, boom, you don't have to get up and wait around the hotel. You wake up and eat breakfast and come play. That's great. And I think that tomorrow it's kind of the same thing.

Q. For all three of you off of that, getting another chance at Nevada, and obviously you proved you could play right with them when you played with them in Boise, what are your thoughts on playing the early game again, and you guys have the game under your belt here and the win and going into the game against the Wolf Pack tomorrow?
COACH RICE: We know how good they are. We know they've got all the pieces. You heard me say that after the last time we played them. There's a reason why they're ranked what they are and we got all the respect in the world for them. We're just going to come out and let the fur fly and see where it ends up.

DERRICK ALSTON: Yeah, great team and getting up again, like I think we play at noon, so just getting up and just getting to play like back when we were kids. It's always fun.

ZACH HANEY: Yep, we know they're a great team. Just come out tomorrow and see what happens. Battle.


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