The Boise State womens basketball team and a roster chock full of new faces shook off the rust in the Broncos season opener Friday, but it came a little too late.
Down by as much as 13 in the first half and by 10 at halftime, the Broncos fought back and led Southern Utah 67-64 with 9 minutes, 53 seconds to play. The two teams were knotted 82-82 with 1:33 to go, but Boise State missed its next three field goals and could not get ahead again in a 90-86 loss.
Five of the nine Broncos who played Friday were making their collegiate debuts against the Thunderbirds, coached by two former assistants of Boise State coach Gordy Presnell.
Its the first game ever for a number of those kids, were pretty young, Presnell said. No disrespect to Southern Utah, theyre my assistants, but theyre still a Big Sky school, and theyre playing on our court and we should win the game. We should.
Boise State shot 27 percent from the field in the first half (10-of-37), but put up a more respectable 41.7 in the second half, making 15-of-36 attempts.
We saw a defense we hadnt seen yet, and we couldnt break it for a while, but by the time we finally broke it, it was a close game, sophomore forward Miquelle Askew said.
Four Broncos scored in double figures Askew (18), Kayla Reinhart (13), Lexie Der (13) and true freshman Yaiza Rodriguez (12). Askew added 11 rebounds before fouling out late.
Defensively, the Broncos had some struggles dealing with the Thunderbirds depth, as seven Southern Utah players scored in double figures, something Presnell said he may not have ever seen in his 30-year coaching career.
Something else Presnell hasnt seen is the new NCAA rules cracking down on handchecking the two teams combined for 55 fouls. The Broncos had an excellent 31-of-35 showing at the free-throw line, but the Thunderbirds made 35-of-44. The Broncos won the turnover battle 26-20 and had 19 offensive rebounds, but Southern Utah got to the line early and often.
Weve to make some serious adjustments youre not going to win any games when your opponent shoots 44 free throws, Presnell said.