Boise State women win the MWC on buzzer-beating putback
Marta Hermida didn’t need to wait for official confirmation.
The junior guard met teammate A’Shanti Coleman near the top of the key with a congratulatory hug just as the rest of the Boise State women’s basketball team came rushing in to join the celebration.
Coleman’s putback from the right side of the lane just beat the buzzer and gave Boise State a 62-60 victory over Nevada, assuring the Broncos back-to-back Mountain West Tournament championships and their third NCAA Tournament appearance in four seasons.
“I felt like it was a normal shot for me, kind of confident, because I knew I had enough time,” Coleman said. “But I just didn’t want to rush the shot and get it off. I felt like when it came out of my hands it was going to go in.”
The Broncos will learn their NCAA Tournament destination and opponent during Monday’s selection show at 5 p.m. MT on ESPN. Boise State has made appearances in 1994, 2007, 2015 and 2017, but the program never has won a game at the Big Dance.
“I think right now we’re just like, ‘Bring it,’ ” Boise State sophomore Riley Lupfer said. “ ‘Give us who you want. Let’s go. Let’s get it done.’ ”
With the score tied at 60 and 12.1 seconds left, Boise State inbounded the ball with the plan to have Hermida take the last shot. If she couldn’t come up with a baseline drive, Hermida was supposed to try for a jumper.
Hermida’s 8-footer along the baseline with about 3 seconds to go missed the mark, but senior Shalen Shaw fought for position under the basket and tipped the ball to Coleman for the game-winner.
“I saw A’Shanti coming for the rebound. When she grabbed it, I’m like, ‘I know that’s going in,’ ” Hermida said. “The referees started telling us to get to our benches. They needed to review the play. But I knew that it was in before the light went off. I knew we won.”
The top-seeded Broncos (23-9) trailed No. 7 Nevada (17-16) nearly the entire second half until Coleman’s stunner. The Wolf Pack had an eight-point advantage at about the 8-minute mark of the fourth quarter and a 60-58 lead with 1:38 left. They already had upended the tournament’s No. 2 and No. 3 seeds, setting up a fourth game in five days.
“I think for us to put ourselves in a position to win a championship when we were picked 10th in the preseason, and we had newspaper articles saying we wouldn’t get better for three to five years, our team used that to fuel them,” first-year Nevada coach Amanda Levens said. “They really believed in themselves and each other and our coaching staff and our system. You don’t make a run like this if you don’t believe.”
Coleman, a 6-foot-2 redshirt sophomore who sat out last season after transferring from Arizona, had another putback with 59 seconds to go that knotted things at 60. She finished with 10 points, three offensive rebounds, three blocked shots and two assists.
“I was proud of our team for hanging in there,” Boise State coach Gordy Presnell said. “We’ve done a great job this past two months handling adversity, and being tough and never letting anything really escape us. We reeled it back in sometimes.”
The victory extended Boise State’s winning streak to 10 games, and the Broncos become just the third school in Mountain West history to claim back-to-back tournament championships, joining Fresno State (2013-14) and New Mexico (2003-05, 2007-08).
Lupfer was awarded tournament MVP honors. In three games, she averaged 16.6 points and pushed her program and conference single-season 3-point record to 120, making five triples in the title game.
“(Coleman) can have all the headlines she wants. In the end we got the trophy, that’s what matters,” Lupfer said. “When you’re jumping up in the middle and you’re dog-piling, that’s the feeling you hope for. For game-winners, it doesn’t matter who shoots it.
“But T stepped up this game, and I believe we have a whole team of people who can take that last shot.”
Boise State sophomore Braydey Hodgins also made the All-Tournament Team and chipped in 14 points against the Wolf Pack, while Shaw added 10 points and Hermida totaled nine. It was the first time this season the Broncos failed to have any bench scoring, despite the fact that nine players saw action.
The first and second rounds of the women’s NCAA Tournament are March 16-19, and current ESPN bracket projections have the Broncos as a No. 15 seed in the Spokane bracket playing at No. 2 Oregon in Eugene.
The reigning Pac-12 champions lost to top-ranked UConn in the Elite Eight last season.
“Women’s basketball, if you’re not an 11 seed, then you’re at a home site,” Presnell said. “That’s just the way it is.”
Idaho 102, Portland State 99
Junior Taylor Pierce set a career-high with 31 points and nine 3-pointers, tying the school and conference single-game records and setting a new Big Sky Tournament record. The Vandals made 16-of-31 from beyond the arc, including 9-of-13 in the second half.
The No. 2 Vandals (19-12) play No. 1 Northern Colorado in the championship at 1:05 p.m. Saturday in Reno, Nev., with a spot in the NCAA Tournament on the line. The game will be broadcast by Pluto TV and Eleven Sports or online by the Big Sky.
Northern Colorado 73, Idaho State 66
Top-ranked Northern Colorado ended the Idaho State women’s run in the Big Sky Tournament semifinals Friday in Reno, Nev. The Bengals (21-11) finished with four players in double figures, led by junior guard Saylair Grandon with 23 points.
Alaska Anchorage 65, Northwest Nazarene 63
Yazmeen Goo made an off-balance scoop shot with 1.6 seconds left Friday to give Anchorage a stunning victory over the NNU women’s team in the first round of the NCAA Division II tournament at Azusa Pacific in California.
Avery Albrecht had converted a three-point play after an offensive rebound to tie the score for NNU before Goo’s heorics. Albrecht scored a team-high 18 points for the Nighthawks (22-5), who had rallied from 10 points down in the fourth quarter.
Men: C of I 62, Dakota Wesleyan 60
The College of Idaho advanced to the quarterfinals of the NAIA Division II Men’s Basketball Championships in Sioux Falls, S.D., in thrilling fashion Friday night, when Roosevelt Adams drained a 23-foot 3-pointer with 14 seconds left to propel the Yotes past Dakota Wesleyan.
C of I (29-6) closed the game on an 11-2 run over the final three minutes.
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 62, Nevada 60
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
Utah State 78, Boise State 75
New Mexico 85, Wyoming 75
Nevada vs. San Diego State, 7 p.m. (CBS Sports Network)
Utah State vs. New Mexico, 9:30 p.m. (CBS Sports Network)
Championship game, 4 p.m. (CBS)