While Marta Hermida answered questions during the Broncos’ postgame press conference, Boise State coach Gordy Presnell looked over at his senior guard and smiled like a proud father.
The expectations for his top-seeded Broncos have been sky high all season, and it was Hermida’s turn Tuesday night to make sure they were met.
Hermida came within two assists of her second career triple-double, notching 30 points, 10 rebounds and eight assists to spearhead the Broncos’ 89-77 victory over No. 4 Fresno State in the Mountain West Tournament semifinals at the Thomas & Mack Center.
“Our kids are pretty unselfish,” Presnell said. “Someone that’s not feeling it as much isn’t just going to keep jacking (shots) up. We’re going to find the open person and find the person hitting, and our kids did that for Marta tonight. And she delivered big time.”
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Boise State (27-4) now will play in the championship game for the third straight season on Wednesday. Tipoff is 8 p.m. MT, and the game will be broadcast on CBS Sports Network and on the radio at 1350 AM. The Broncos take on No. 3 Wyoming, which survived a 75-70 overtime game against No. 7 San Diego State in Tuesday’s other semifinal.
The Cowgirls (22-7) are one of just four teams to best the Broncos this season, winning 64-52 on Jan. 26 in Laramie. Boise State won the two teams’ first regular-season meeting 72-64 on Jan. 2 at Taco Bell Arena.
A victory Wednesday night would send Boise State to its third consecutive NCAA Tournament appearance and fourth in five seasons.
“I feel like sometimes pressure can bring out anxiety in people, but with this team it brings out our competitiveness,” Boise State junior Riley Lupfer said. “Our will to win and effort just rises.”
Hermida’s 30 points is tied for the fifth-most in Mountain West Tournament history and comes a day after teammate Braydey Hodgins set the record with 37 points against Nevada.
“We know that we have really, really good players. We don’t know who is going to step up, but we know somebody is going to step up,” said Hermida, a native of Madrid, Spain. “The best part of this team is that we can recognize every single game who is that person. Yesterday Braydey had a great, great game. And today they found me. But tomorrow, let’s see who it is. And that’s the best part. We play all together.”
As a team, the Broncos set a tournament single-game record with 25 assists, surpassing the previous record of 24 set by UNLV in 2009. Boise State’s 12 made 3-pointers is tied for second-most by a team, and its 89 points are the fifth-most in tournament history.
“We’re 27-4 now, so that’s an incredible season and I know that’s a school record, but we want to keep winning. We want to keep playing,” Hodgins said. “We have a lot of basketball left in us and we have the depth to do that.”
Hermida got the Broncos off to a blazing start against the Bulldogs, connecting on three 3-pointers in the first quarter and racking up all 11 of her first-half points in the opening 10 minutes.
Senior forward Joyce Harrell then extended Boise State’s lead to eight, 26-18, with 9:51 on the clock in the second quarter. Fresno State whittled away the Broncos’ lead the rest of the way, eventually tying the game at 36-36 on Candice White’s layup with 15 seconds left before halftime. White, a two-time All-Mountain West honoree, led all scorers in the first half with 15 points and totaled 28 in the loss.
Hermida finished the semifinal with six made 3-pointers, which matches her career high. She also surpassed her previous career-best point total of 26, which she scored against New Mexico on Feb. 7, 2018.
Boise State closed out the win over the Bulldogs (19-12) by making 12-of-14 free throws in the fourth quarter, with Hermida sinking 8-of-10. Hodgins added 17 points, and Lupfer (12 points) and Joyce Harrell (11 points) also reached double figures for Boise State.
“We set this goal early in July of our team wanting to win and going back to the (NCAA) Tournament,” Harrell said. “Knowing that it’s right there in front of us, and it’s on us, if we’re going to get there or not is something that we know we can control and we can do this.”
NNU women open nationals Friday
The Northwest Nazarene women’s basketball team will be the No. 2 seed in the NCAA Division II National Tournament West Regional this weekend at RIMAC Arena on the campus of top-seeded UC San Diego in La Jolla, California.
The Nighthawks (28-2) face No. 7 Humboldt State (19-7) in the first round at 3:30 p.m. MT on Friday. NNU made the tournament for the second consecutive season after winning its first GNAC Tournament title with a 70-64 victory over Alaska Anchorage on March 9.
The Seawolves (28-2) are the No. 3 seed and face Hawaii Pacific in the first round. If the two GNAC teams win, they will play each other for a fourth time this season on Saturday. Alaska Anchorage defeated NNU in the first round of the national tournament last season.
BOISE STATE 89, FRESNO STATE 77
FRESNO STATE (19-12)
WHITE, Candice 9-20 7-7 28; GAMEZ, Aly 5-11 7-8 18; UTTI, Maddi 5-9 1-1 11; DELANEY, Bree 2-8 2-2 6; OGIER, Genna 2-5 0-0 4; NOYER, Katelin 2-2 0-0 4; KNISHKA, Breanne 1-1 0-0 3; PORTER, Jordanna 1-3 0-0 3; STANDIFER, Gabby 0-0 0-0 0; FRIBERG, Lydia 0-0 0-0 0; CAVEY, Kristina 0-0 0-0 0; JOHNSON, Raven 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 27-59 17-18 77.
BOISE STATE (27-4)
HERMIDA, Marta 8-13 8-10 30; HODGINS, Braydey 6-12 2-2 17; LUPFER, Riley 4-11 2-2 12; HARRELL, Joyce 5-11 1-2 11; COLEMAN, A’Shanti 4-9 0-0 8; CHRISTOPHER, Jayde 1-2 2-2 5; BOWERS, Rachel 2-5 0-0 4; AMUNDSEN, Tess 1-5 0-0 2; WOERNER, Ellie 0-0 0-0 0; LOVILLE, Jade 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 31-69 15-18 89.
Fresno State............... 18 18 18 23 — 77
Boise State................ 24 12 24 29 — 89
3-point goals — Fresno State 6-23 (WHITE, Candice 3-8; KNISHKA, Breanne 1-1; GAMEZ, Aly 1-5; PORTER, Jordanna 1-2; OGIER, Genna 0-2; DELANEY, Bree 0-5), Boise State 12-27 (HERMIDA, Marta 6-9; HODGINS, Braydey 3-9; LUPFER, Riley 2-7; CHRISTOPHER, Jayde 1-1; LOVILLE, Jade 0-1). Fouled out — Fresno State-DELANEY, Bree, Boise State-None. Rebounds — Fresno State 31 (UTTI, Maddi 7; WHITE, Candice 7), Boise State 38 (HERMIDA, Marta 10). Assists — Fresno State 18 (WHITE, Candice 5; DELANEY, Bree 5), Boise State 25 (CHRISTOPHER, Jayde 8; HERMIDA, Marta 8). Total fouls — Fresno State 19, Boise State 14. Technical fouls — None. A — 1,934.