Presnell says preseason WNIT invite a ‘real highlight’ for Boise State
Some big news recently arrived in Gordy Presnell’s email, but the Boise State women’s basketball coach hasn’t had much time to consider the implications.
The short answer?
Presnell’s program is on the rise.
The Broncos were invited to participate in the 2019 Preseason WNIT, a nod to the team’s recent run of success that includes three NCAA Tournament appearances in four seasons and back-to-back Mountain West Tournament titles.
“I don’t know if we’re going to accept (the invite) or not, but those are just some things that haven’t happened here, so we’re excited about that,” Presnell said. “... It’s a credit to those guys that we’re doing a pretty good job and getting some notoriety.”
The preseason WNIT is traditionally played in November and includes 16 teams. Iowa State, the reigning champion, is currently ranked No. 20 in the AP Top 25, and past champions include national powers such as Louisville (2017), Notre Dame (2016), Baylor (2015) and Mississippi State (2014).
The complete field for the 2019 tournament, as well as dates and locations, have yet to be announced.
“I was kind of shocked we got (invited), but why not?” Boise State junior Riley Lupfer said. “We’re still rising. I feel like ever since I got here, we have been getting better and rising as a program, and we’ll just keep on going.”
At 14-2, the Broncos have matched their best 16-game start since the 1993-94 season. Their 15 straight wins over Mountain West opponents, dating back to the end of last season, also matches a program record set against WAC opponents from 2007 to 2008.
Boise State, which is 5-0 in league play and on a nine-game winning streak, is receiving votes again in the latest AP Top 25 poll. The Broncos were among the teams receiving votes through the first four weeks of the season, but dropped out after a 95-71 loss at Washington State.
The Broncos continue conference play at home Wednesday when they host Air Force (6-11, 2-4) at 7 p.m. at Taco Bell Arena. Boise State swept the Falcons during the regular season last year and beat them 60-46 in the Mountain West Tournament quarterfinals. Wednesday’s game will be on 1350 AM, and you can find a link for a free video stream at BroncoSports.com.
Hermida receives league honor
Versatile Boise State senior guard Marta Hermida was named the Mountain West Player of the Week on Monday after helping the Broncos to wins over Nevada and Fresno State.
For the week, Hermida averaged 14.5 points, 5.0 rebounds and 2.5 assists, while shooting 55 percent from the field and 55.6 percent from 3-point range. Against Fresno State, the Madrid, Spain, native scored all 21 of her points in the second half, highlighted by five 3-pointers, as the Broncos took over sole possession of first place in the Mountain West standings.
Earlier in the week, Hermida came off the bench to provide eight points, seven rebounds and four assists in a 75-74 win at Nevada, becoming just the second player in program history to record 1,000 points, 500 rebounds and 300 assists in her career.
Men: Broncos travel to Air Force
Air Force has finished among the bottom three in the Mountain West Conference standings every year since the 2013-14 season, and the Falcons are just 2-4 in league play this season.
But Boise State is in no position to overlook any foe, and coach Leon Rice is bracing his Broncos (8-10, 3-2 MW) for a contentious battle Tuesday night. Tipoff is 7 p.m. MT at Clune Arena in Colorado (AT&T SportsNet, 670 AM).
Air Force is 6-3 at home this season.
“It’s a really tough challenge, and the teams that don’t show up and play a really good game at Air Force get beat,” Rice said. “That’s pretty evident in their last two home games. They handed it to San Diego State and UNLV.”
The Falcons beat SDSU, 62-48, on Jan. 12 and then rolled over UNLV by a 106-88 score on Jan. 16.
“Scoring 106 points, you look around the country, jeez, nobody’s doing that in league games. Nobody,” Rice said. “That blew me away.”