Anthony Drmic brought an all-around game, and so did his team.
Drmic scored 30 points and his team locked down on defense in Boise State’s 80-54 win over South Carolina in Monday’s semifinals of the Diamond Head Classic.
Mikey Thompson added 10 points for Boise State (10-2), which will play No. 14 Iowa State (10-0) in Wednesday’s championship game.
Brenton Williams scored 14 points and Duane Notice added 13 for the Gamecocks (3-6), who will play Akron (6-3) for third place.
Drmic scored 21 points in the first half and looked to be on pace to match his career high of 34 points set against LSU last December and earlier this year against Texas-Arlington. He shot 10-of-17 from the field, made 8-of-11 free throws, grabbed six rebounds, and had three steals.
“He (Drmic) is really aggressive, he’s confident, he can make shots and do a lot of different things for us,” said Boise State’s Thomas Bropleh, who scored nine points off the bench. “He’s a great teammate.”
Added Jeff Elorriaga, who scored nine points for Boise State: “He gets to the rim, he gets to the free throw, it puts a lot of pressure on the (other) team.”
Boise State shot 54 percent from the field, shut down South Carolina’s offense, and held a double-digit lead for most of the game. The Broncos forced 18 turnovers and converted that into 20 points.
“I thought it was one of the best all-around efforts and it started with our defense,” said Boise State coach Leon Rice.
The Broncos built a double-digit lead just nine minutes into the game. Boise State scored from all directions, driving into the lane for layups and hitting 3-pointers. Boise State forced 11 first-half turnovers and converted that into 12 points.
“They fight you, they don’t give you anything easy,” South Carolina coach Frank Martin said. “I kept telling our guys that their guys drive the ball from the half-court line and get to the rim, where’s the help at? Our guys drive from the top of the key and couldn’t crack the foul line because the help came over and it’s what happens.”
Boise State led 43-28 at halftime and pulled away in the second half as South Carolina struggled to find the basket, shooting 37 percent. The Broncos outscored the Gamecocks 16-9 to start the second half and led 59-35 with 11 minutes left. Back-to-back 3-pointers from Elorriaga gave Boise State its largest lead of the game at 67-37 with nine minutes remaining.
The performance against the Gamecocks was a stark contrast from Sunday’s first-round game where it barely beat Hawaii, 62-61.
“Everyone put it on their backs because we know. We watched the film over and over and know that that is not us, we know that we can play a lot better as a team, individually, everything,” Drmic said. “Everyone just had to come to the game and be prepared and give it your all, so I think that’s what we’ve done these last two games and I think that’s why we’ve been able to produce a lot better.”
With its football team playing in Tuesday’s Honolulu Bowl, Boise State had a vocal contingent of about 75 fans and cheerleaders at the game.
“It’s terrific,” Rice said. “Our hotel is Bronco Nation, which is great and one of the neat things about this tournament is we’ve got three Aussies on the team and for them, they never get to be with their families for Christmas, so their families are up here and we’ve got a lot of the kids’ families here so that’s been pretty special.”
Elorriaga knows his team will face a tough opponent in Iowa State. The Cyclones entered the tournament with the nation’s second-best offense and are 10-0 for the first time since the 1996-97 season.
“They rebound well, they get in transition great,” Elorriaga said. “They lead the nation in assists per team, which is incredible. That’s a great offense. We’re going to be very dialed in. This is going to be a very tough task for us. We knew Iowa State is the best team here.”