One year and two days ago, Boise State’s regular-season championship celebration was relegated to a locker room underneath the stadium seating at Wyoming’s Arena-Auditorium with a stand-in trophy the Broncos couldn’t even take home.
The Broncos received a proper celebration in 2019.
With 2,682 roaring fans behind them, the Boise State women’s basketball team defeated New Mexico 70-66 on Monday night at Taco Bell Arena to claim the Mountain West Conference’s regular-season title and the No. 1 seed in the conference tournament.
It is the first time the team has won an outright title at home.
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“It’s a perfect story ending. I dreamed of this stuff as a little girl,” Boise State senior Joyce Harrell said. “Now having it and doing it in front of my family, last year we won at Wyoming. I was just talking about celebrating on the bus. It’s not as fun as doing it at home in front of your home crowd and family.”
On New Mexico’s final possession, Boise State junior point guard Jayde Christopher stole the ball from Lobos guard Aisia Robertson and then dribbled out the remaining seconds as she made her way toward the Broncos’ bench.
Redshirting freshman Maggie Freeman doused coach Gordy Presnell with shredded paper — hey, Gatorade would be dangerous on the hardwood — and moments later blue and orange confetti came raining down from the arena rafters.
A ladder was brought out so the team could cut down a net.
“I had my parents and my sister here. It’s like the dream day,” said Boise State senior Marta Hermida, a native of Madrid, Spain. “I could never dream something like this.”
Hermida led the Broncos with 18 points, five rebounds, five assists and two steals against the second-place Lobos (23-5 overall, 13-4 MW), adding a fourth championship to her resume in her final season with the Broncos. Junior A’Shanti Coleman totaled 17 points, four rebounds and four steals, junior Riley Lupfer had nine points, and Braydey Hodgins, Tess Amundsen and Christopher chipped in seven points apiece.
“We knew we had to be together. That’s the strength of this team,” Hermida said. “Be together and stay as one, and that’s what we did. I think that was the difference between New Mexico and us.”
In the only regular-season matchup between the Mountain West’s top two teams, Boise State grabbed a season-high 15 steals against the Lobos and forced 26 turnovers. New Mexico had just 25 points at halftime, a season low.
“Every night, every game we’re going hard,” Coleman said. “But today was something different. We were winning for a top seed and championship.”
Boise State (24-4, 15-2) is the two-time defending Mountain West Tournament champion and Monday’s win assured the Broncos their second consecutive regular-season title as well.
The Broncos wrap up conference play at 7 p.m. Thursday against Air Force (8-20, 4-13) in USAFA, Colorado. Boise State has a two-game lead on the Lobos, so the outcome of Thursday’s game will not affect their position in the conference standings.
The Mountain West Tournament begins Sunday, but the Broncos earned a first-round bye. They will play at 1 p.m. MT Monday at the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas.
“This group of juniors, this was their fourth championship game, and they delivered,” Presnell said. “They’re an amazing group in the lineage of women’s basketball at Boise State to be so successful, and hopefully we’ll have another one in us. We’ll see.”
Men: Broncos need wins to move up
The Boise State men’s basketball team already knows it will be playing on the first day of the Mountain West Tournament next week in Las Vegas.
What isn’t certain yet for the Broncos is their seed, which could range anywhere from No. 6 to No. 9.
Air Force (13-15, 8-8) currently owns the No. 6 spot, but the Broncos (11-18, 6-10) still have a chance to unseat the Falcons with two games remaining in the regular season. Boise State plays at New Mexico on Wednesday (7 p.m. MT, ESPN3) and hosts Air Force on Saturday (5 p.m., AT&T SportsNet).
A loss against the Lobos (12-16, 6-10), however, would limit the Broncos to the 8-9 game.
“Our guys know that scenario, for sure,” Boise State coach Leon Rice said. “I think it’s a really big game. It’s their senior night and a tough place to play. We know it’s a big, big challenge.”
WOMEN: BOISE ST. 70, NEW MEXICO 66
NEW MEXICO (23-5)
Aisia Robertson 8-14 3-3 23; Jayla Everett 5-14 0-0 12; Antonia Anderson 4-4 2-2 10; Jaisa Nunn 2-10 4-5 8; Ahlise Hurst 2-4 0-0 6; Jaedyn De La Cerda 2-10 0-0 5; Nike McClure 1-4 0-0 2. Totals 24-60 9-10 66.
BOISE ST. (24-4)
HERMIDA, Marta 8-18 0-0 18; COLEMAN, A’Shanti 8-11 1-2 17; LUPFER, Riley 3-11 0-0 9; HODGINS, Braydey 2-9 2-2 7; AMUNDSEN, Tess 3-7 1-1 7; CHRISTOPHER, Jayde 2-7 1-2 7; HARRELL, Joyce 2-4 1-2 5; VANDERSCHAAF, Marijk 0-0 0-0 0; BOWERS, Rachel 0-7 0-0 0. Totals 28-74 6-9 70.
New Mexico.................... 14 11 18 23 — 66
Boise St...................... 18 10 24 18 — 70
3-point goals — New Mexico 9-23 (Aisia Robertson 4-5; Jayla Everett 2-8; Ahlise Hurst 2-4; Jaedyn De La Cerda 1-4; Jaisa Nunn 0-2), Boise St. 8-31 (LUPFER, Riley 3-10; CHRISTOPHER, Jayde 2-3; HERMIDA, Marta 2-7; HODGINS, Braydey 1-7; BOWERS, Rachel 0-1; AMUNDSEN, Tess 0-2; COLEMAN, A’Shanti 0-1). Fouled out — None. Rebounds — New Mexico 42 (Jaisa Nunn 12), Boise St. 41 (HARRELL, Joyce 8). Assists — New Mexico 8 (Jayla Everett 2; Antonia Anderson 2), Boise St. 16 (HERMIDA, Marta 5; CHRISTOPHER, Jayde 5). Total fouls — New Mexico 14, Boise St. 11. Technical fouls — None. A — 2,682.