Boise State women’s basketball coach Gordy Presnell took a moment to clear up any confusion Tuesday during the Broncos’ postgame news conference at the Thomas & Mack Center.
“Riley (Lupfer), I think, is the MVP of this league,” he said. “I don’t understand how she’s not.”
The Broncos’ sophomore guard was passed up for Mountain West Player of the Year honors on Monday, and she responded with a record-setting performance in Boise State’s 60-46 victory over Air Force in Tuesday’s conference tournament quarterfinals.
Lupfer went 5-for-8 from 3-point range to push her season total to 113 made threes, surpassing the Mountain West single-season record. The previous mark was held by Utah’s Iwalani Rodrigues, who totaled 110 3-pointers during the 2010-11 season.
“I couldn’t do it without (my team). Three of my threes, (Shalen Shaw) got me open. That’s the reason I made them,” Lupfer said. “Every three I make is mostly an assist. Obviously I couldn’t do it without them. They’re penetrating, driving, sucking my girl in. It’s a team effort no matter who scores.”
Lupfer finished with a game-leading 19 points and was joined in double figures by Marta Hermida (15 points) and Braydey Hodgins (11), who helped the Broncos move into the tournament semifinals for the third time in four seasons.
“(Lupfer) does that. It’s all of a sudden she gets loose, and you go: ‘How did that happen? How did we lose track of her?’ ” Air Force coach Chris Gobrecht said. “Just briefly, you turn your head, and she’s going to make you pay.”
Boise State (21-9), the defending tournament champion, will take on Colorado State (20-10) at 7:30 p.m. Mountain Wednesday with a spot in Friday’s championship game on the line. The Rams defeated Fresno State 71-55 on Tuesday behind balanced scoring, with four CSU players in double figures. The Broncos swept the Rams during the regular season, winning 62-58 at Colorado State and 55-49 at Taco Bell Arena.
Lupfer tied the Mountain West single-season 3-point record with 6:28 to go in the second quarter, and then broke it at the 7:10 mark of the third. She added two more treys in the fourth quarter for good measure, helping Boise State build as much as a 20-point lead over the Falcons (6-25). It was the Broncos’ eighth straight win.
“I think we’re closing fourth quarters better than before conference (play). That’s huge. We would be up in the fourth quarter, then we’d just give it away. We wouldn’t be mentally tough and finish,” Lupfer said. “These last eight games, we’re finishing, stepping up, hitting shots and getting stops.
“We have crazy numbers — teams are shooting like 16 percent in the fourth quarter. That’s been huge. I think that’s been the big difference.”
Boise State held Air Force to just 24.1 percent shooting for its third win of the season over the Falcons, who had won four of their past five games.
Mountain West Tournament schedules
At The Thomas & Mack Center, Las Vegas
All times Mountain
Air Force 68, Utah State 54
Nevada 95, San Diego State 84, OT
New Mexico 84, San Jose State 54
Boise State 60, Air Force 46
Colorado State 71, Fresno State 55
Nevada 77, UNLV 73
Wyoming 69, New Mexico 66
Boise State vs. Colorado State, 7:30 p.m.
Nevada vs. Wyoming, 10 p.m.
UNLV vs. Air Force, noon
Utah State vs. Colorado State, 2:30 p.m.
Wyoming vs. San Jose State, 5 p.m.
Nevada vs. UNLV-Air Force winner, 1 p.m. (CBS Sports Network)
Fresno State vs. San Diego State, 3:30 p.m. (CBS Sports Network)
Boise State vs. Utah State-Colorado State winner, 7 p.m. (CBS Sports Network)
New Mexico vs. Wyoming-San Jose State winner, 9:30 p.m. (CBS Sports Network)