A red-hot Boise State women’s basketball team came back to Earth on Monday.
After shooting 50 percent or better its past two games and showing why it was picked as the preseason Mountain West favorite, the Broncos couldn’t buy a bucket at Taco Bell Arena and fell 61-53 to Washington State.
Boise State (5-4) struggled all over the court, shooting 31 percent from the floor (20-of-65), 11 percent on 3-pointers (2-of-19) and 58 percent from the free-throw line (11-of-19).
“We’re not going to win any games going 2-for-19 from the 3-point line,” Boise State coach Gordy Presnell said. “They are a good team, but I thought we had our chances and we didn’t take advantage of them.”
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Despite the Broncos’ shooting struggles, they took a 52-51 lead with 3:34 left in the fourth quarter when Riley Lupfer drained a 3-pointer from the left corner.
But Boise State only scored one point the rest of the way, a Shalen Shaw free throw. Marta Hermida missed a game-tying 3-pointer with 25 seconds left, and Washington State (6-5) closed out the game by sinking 6 of 6 free throws.
“We had a (one)-point lead in the fourth quarter and went three possessions without executing anything that we called,” Presnell said. “I should have called a timeout, probably, in that moment and got us regrouped a little bit.”
Neither team could find a shooting rhythm as Washington State, led by former Boise State coach June Daugherty, missed its first 10 shots. The Cougars shot just 32 percent. But with their decided size advantage and Boise State struggling from the outside, they clogged the middle and denied the Broncos any easy looks in the paint.
“I think we were in our heads and not letting it fly like we normally do and believing that it’s going in,” said Shaw, who scored 13 points. “We were a little hesitant to shoot.”
Boise State had won three in a row entering Monday, including a 23-point shellacking of Washington on Dec. 7. The outburst appeared to put the Broncos’ early-season struggles behind them as they approached their Mountain West schedule.
A win over Washington State would have earned Boise State a pair of wins over Pac-12 opponents for the first time since 2007-08. Instead, a last-minute dry spell sends the Broncos into their final two nonconference games searching for new rotations with starting center Marijke Vanderschaaf lost for the season with a torn ACL. She injured the knee in the opening minutes of the victory against Washington.
The Broncos host Cal State Bakersfield at 7 p.m. Wednesday and Saint Francis (Penn.) at 5:30 p.m. Thursday before opening their conference schedule at Colorado State on Dec. 28.
“I think we can only go up,” Shaw said. “We have to take the good and the bad things and improve on both, both offensively and defensively, to get to where we want to be.”