Gordy Presnell: Nevada has the 'whole package'
Four different players have led the Boise State women’s basketball team in scoring over the course of the Broncos’ nine-game winning streak.
That diverse scoring ability and a particularly stingy fourth-quarter defense have the Broncos on the verge of a third NCAA Tournament appearance in the past four seasons.
All that’s left to do is beat No. 7 Nevada (16-15) in the Mountain West Tournament championship game at 1 p.m. MT on Friday at the Thomas & Mack Center. The game will be streamed live online on the Mountain West Network.
“It’s obvious that we play team basketball, and we’re winning because of the team,” said Boise State sophomore guard Riley Lupfer, the Broncos’ leading scorer at 16.3 points per game. “We’re not winning because we have one good player. We’re winning because we have a whole team of them. Anyone can step up on any given night, and that takes a lot of pressure off a single individual.”
Lupfer, Marta Hermida, Braydey Hodgins and A’Shanti Coleman have each taken a turn leading the Broncos in scoring over the past nine games, while the defense has held opponents to just 31.4 percent (43-for-137) from the field and 15.8 percent (6-for-38) from 3-point range in the fourth quarter.
“(The coaches) just always tell us to finish and run through the finish line,” Boise State senior Shalen Shaw said. “I think that’s something that we’ve done as of late is just put our heads down and keep chipping away.”
Top-seeded Boise State (22-9) split its regular-season games with Nevada, losing 72-68 on Jan. 20 at Taco Bell Arena and then winning 63-55 in Reno on Feb. 14.
The Wolf Pack enter the title matchup riding a five-game winning streak that includes upsets of No. 2 UNLV and No. 3 Wyoming, but Friday will be Nevada’s fourth game in five days.
“Nevada is a tough team. They have different components that they bring,” Shaw said. “They play hard. They’ve been showing that they’re going to give it everything that they have, and I think that how we respond to their punches is going to be key.”
The lowest seeds to win the Mountain West Tournament were No. 5 Utah in 2011 and No. 5 Boise State last season. Nevada has never advanced to the NCAA Tournament.
The Broncos have no intention of letting the Wolf Pack make history.
“We want to be what some of the other sports at Boise State are, and that’s the bar,” Boise State coach Gordy Presnell said. “Gymnastics is the bar. Football is the bar, and we want to be the bar.”
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 76, Colorado State 51
Nevada 67, Wyoming 63
Boise State vs. Nevada, 1 p.m.
UNLV 97, Air Force 90, OT
Utah State 76, Colorado State 65
Wyoming 74, San Jose State 61
Nevada 79, UNLV 74
San Diego State 64, Fresno State 52
Boise State vs. Utah State, late
New Mexico vs. Wyoming, late
Nevada vs. San Diego State, 7 p.m. (CBS Sports Network)
Boise St./Utah St. winner vs. New Mexico/Wyoming winner, 9:30 p.m. (CBS Sports Network)
Championship game, 4 p.m. (CBS)
Men: BSU vs. Utah State
The Boise State quarterfinal game vs. Utah State in Las Vegas ended after the Statesman’s press time Thursday night. Go to IdahoStatesman.com for full coverage.