Boise State Basketball

Dancing again: Boise State women dominate on way to another NCAA Tournament

Boise State women’s basketball players ambush coach Gordy Presnell

The Boise State women's basketball players surrounded coach Gordy Presnell as he finished his TV interview after the Broncos won their third straight Mountain West Tournament championship.
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The Boise State women's basketball players surrounded coach Gordy Presnell as he finished his TV interview after the Broncos won their third straight Mountain West Tournament championship.

Braydey Hodgins exited the Mountain West Tournament championship game for the last time with 33 seconds left in the fourth quarter.

As she made her way toward the bench, Hodgins hugged each one of her Boise State teammates.

Finally, the Broncos could celebrate.

The top-seeded Boise State women’s basketball team knocked off No. 3 Wyoming 68-51 in the title game Wednesday night to secure the conference’s automatic bid and the program’s third straight appearance in the NCAA Tournament.

“I definitely say it gets harder just because the pressure gets bigger,” Hodgins said. “Me and (teammate) Riley (Lupfer) just hugged after the game saying we’re 9-0 in this tournament. That’s something we take pride in. We don’t ever want to walk off that floor crying.

“We want to be crying because we’re happy about what we just accomplished.”

Wednesday’s championship game was Boise State’s third contest in three days at the Thomas & Mack Center, but easily its most dominant. Wyoming only led briefly, 5-2, and fell behind by as many as 18 points. The Broncos’ 17-point margin of victory is the largest in the tournament’s final since Utah beat BYU by 24 points in the 2006 title game.

“There is no doubt they were the better team tonight,” Wyoming coach Joe Legerski said. “I think their experience of playing in these big games really makes a difference. ... They were scoring from every position, so it wasn’t like you could focus on one player.”

[Related: Boise State men advance in Mountain West tourney]

Hodgins, a junior guard from Pasco, Washington, was named the tournament MVP. She had a single-game tournament record 37 points in the Broncos’ quarterfinal win over Nevada, then chipped in 17 in the semifinals against Fresno State and finally a team-leading 16 on 6-for-6 shooting against the Cowgirls. She averaged 23.3 points and 3.0 assists per game while shooting 61.1 percent (22-of-38) from the field and 94.7 percent (18-of-19) from the free-throw line.

In total, Hodgins scored 70 points in three games, falling a little shy of the tournament record of 78 points by Nevada’s T Moe.

Joining Hodgins on the all-tournament team were Boise State senior Marta Hermida, Fresno State senior Candice White, San Diego State freshman Sophia Ramos and Wyoming senior Marta Gomez.

“I’m really proud of our players. It’s a great group,” Boise State coach Gordy Presnell said. “... I’ve coached for 32 years, and this is the closest-knit group I’ve ever been around.”

Boise State now has qualified for the NCAA Tournament four times in the last five seasons. The Broncos have five previous appearances in the Big Dance — 1994, 2007, 2015, 2017, 2018 — but have yet to win a game.

[Related: This might be the key to Boise State women’s basketball success]

Boise State will learn its opponent and destination during the ESPN Selection Special, which begins at 5 p.m. MT on Monday. The Broncos are hoping to draw a better seed than last year’s disappointing 16 seed that came with a first-round matchup at No. 1 Louisville. The Cardinals won 74-42 and advanced all the way to the Final Four.

This year’s team could be the one to break that losing streak. The 2018-19 Broncos already have set program records for overall wins (28) and conference wins (15) in a season.

“We need to win in the Big Dance,” said Boise State senior Joyce Harrell, who scored eight of her 12 points in the fourth quarter. “We’ve been there several times but haven’t gotten a win. I think this is our year. This is our time to do it.”

The first and second rounds of the 2019 NCAA Tournament run March 22-25 at 16 campus sites that will be announced during the selection show.

“We just want to see what we can do. It’s pretty hard when you go play a Tennessee or a Louisville or a UCLA,” Presnell said. “... It would be nice to be on a neutral site just to see.”

Notes: Redshirt junior A’Shanti Coleman had 11 points and a team-leading eight rebounds, and Jayde Christopher totaled 11 points — with a 3-for-3 performance from deep — and a team-best six assists and two steals against the Cowgirls. Christopher also was whistled for a technical foul midway through the third quarter. She grabbed a steal, assisted Coleman on an easy layup and then showed a little too much exuberance when she turned and yelled “Let’s go!” in the face of a Wyoming’s Clara Tapia. “I was too hyped,” Christopher said after the game. ... Boise State got all 13 of its eligible players on the floor against the Cowgirls, and eight of those players scored. The Broncos combined to shoot 50 percent overall (26-of-52), a season-best 57.1 percent from beyond the arc (8-of-14) and 100 percent from the free-throw line (8-of-8).

BOISE STATE 68, WYOMING 51

WYOMING (22-7)

GOMEZ,Marta 6-10 4-4 19; ERJAVEC,Karla 3-7 1-2 8; TAPIA,Clara 3-6 1-2 7; RUSK,Taylor 3-6 1-1 7; WEIDEMANN,Quinn 1-6 0-0 3; VITULOVA,Tereza 1-3 0-0 3; RAKOVIC,Sladjana 0-0 2-2 2; COTTON,Bailee 1-7 0-0 2; RACA,Tijana 0-0 0-0 0; TUCKER,Rachelle 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 18-45 9-11 51.

BOISE STATE (27-4)

HODGINS, Braydey 6-6 2-2 16; HARRELL, Joyce 5-8 2-2 12; CHRISTOPHER, Jayde 4-8 0-0 11; COLEMAN, A’Shanti 4-6 2-2 11; HERMIDA, Marta 3-8 2-2 8; LUPFER, Riley 2-8 0-0 6; BOWERS, Rachel 1-3 0-0 2; VANDERSCHAAF, Marijk 1-3 0-0 2; GALERON, Sofia 0-0 0-0 0; TOTH, Emerald 0-0 0-0 0; LOVILLE, Jade 0-2 0-0 0; WOERNER, Ellie 0-0 0-0 0; AMUNDSEN, Tess 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 26-52 8-8 68.

Wyoming.................... 13 10 16 12 — 51

Boise State................ 18 17 22 11 — 68

3-point goals — Wyoming 6-13 (GOMEZ,Marta 3-5; ERJAVEC,Karla 1-1; VITULOVA,Tereza 1-1; WEIDEMANN,Quinn 1-4; RUSK,Taylor 0-2), Boise State 8-14 (CHRISTOPHER, Jayde 3-3; LUPFER, Riley 2-5; HODGINS, Braydey 2-2; COLEMAN, A’Shanti 1-2; HERMIDA, Marta 0-2). Fouled out — None. Rebounds — Wyoming 21 (COTTON,Bailee 3; RUSK,Taylor 3), Boise State 31 (COLEMAN, A’Shanti 8). Assists — Wyoming 11 (TAPIA,Clara 4), Boise State 15 (CHRISTOPHER, Jayde 6). Total fouls — Wyoming 10, Boise State 8. Technical fouls — Wyoming-None, Boise State-CHRISTOPHER, Jayde. A — 2,011.

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