Boise State women’s basketball coach Gordy Presnell has used every play he can think of to get sophomore guard Riley Lupfer the ball.
Lupfer is making 3-pointers at such a fantastic rate that she is just three 3s away from tying the Broncos’ single-season record of 81 with eight games still to go in the regular season.
“She’s a gifted shooter, but also she puts in the time. She has an amazing work ethic,” Presnell said. “She’s in the gym all the time putting up her shots, and then she’ll work herself to fatigue and then start shooting on her own just to make sure she has all her bases covered. It’s all come to fruition right now.”
Lupfer, a 5-foot-9 lefty, has made 78 treys this season, including four in a 49-46 victory over Air Force on Saturday at Taco Bell Arena. The defending Mountain West Tournament champions are 13-8 overall and 7-3 in conference play.
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After Saturday’s game, Lupfer was tied for fourth in all of Division I for 3-point field goals made, sixth in 3-point field goals per game (3.71), and ninth in 3-point field-goal percentage (45.9 percent). She leads the Mountain West Conference in both 3-point field-goal percentage and 3s per game.
“I don’t look at that kind of stuff. The only reason why I know is because of Facebook. My family has Facebook, and I get like 550 notifications every day,” Lupfer said. “I am a very even-keel person, very low-key, not very high maintenance, so when I hear (about my stats), it’s just in one ear and out the other kind of thing. I feel like my family gets more excited than I do.”
Lupfer, who started all four years on varsity at Lewis and Clark High in Spokane, Wash., has connected on a career-best seven 3-pointers in three games this season, one triple shy of tying the Broncos’ single-game record of eight. She already ranks 10th in program history for career 3s (134) having played only half the games of anyone among the top eight.
Presnell says he recognized Lupfer’s natural shooting ability and confidence long before she became a Bronco.
“Even when we watched her as a sophomore in high school, when she shot it, she thought it was going in. That’s half the battle, because shooting’s a lot mental,” Presnell said. “She has a beautiful shooting stroke and obviously right now she’s just kind of in a groove. Hopefully we can make it last.”
Teammates say Lupfer, a social sciences major, is a calming presence on the court, which may stem from her daily routine of yoga and meditation.
“She’s calm and collected most of the time,” Boise State senior Shalen Shaw said. “That’s why she always makes her shots.”
Lupfer has been particularly strong in conference play, making 49 3-pointers — 24 more than anyone else in the Mountain West — and shooting 52.7 percent from deep. She has led or tied for the Broncos’ scoring lead 12 times this season, including the last nine games. Lupfer was recognized as the Mountain West Player of the Week twice this season and was named to NCAA.com’s Starting Five for the week of Jan. 8-14, which honors the nation’s top women’s basketball performances.
“When she came back from Christmas I think she was kind of ready to go and has taken her shooting to the next level,” Presnell said. “We’ve been working on box-and-one (defense) and that sort of stuff just in case it happens, but it hasn’t happened yet.”
Lupfer says she wouldn’t mind a bit if opposing teams chose to employ more resources to try and shut her down.
“I hope they do that. If they do that to me, then I have four other people on the court who are going to score,” Lupfer said. “You can’t just worry about me and expect my team not to do anything else. I could score zero and if we get the win, that’s what matters.”
Tennis coach reaches milestone
The Boise State men’s tennis team defeated Whitman College 5-2 on Saturday night, handing coach Greg Patton the 800th win of his career.
Patton began his second stint with the Broncos in 2003 after previously coaching the squad from 1992 to 1998. He has twice been named the NCAA/ITA National Coach of the Year and has helped his teams make 21 NCAA Tournament appearances.