Boise State women’s basketball players ambush coach Gordy Presnell
Making its sixth NCAA Tournament appearance in program history, the Boise State women’s basketball team will face a former Treasure Valley high school star in the first round.
The Broncos (28-4), projected to get an 11 or 12 seed by many, wound up as a 13 seed in the Albany Regional and will take on No. 4 Oregon State (24-7) in the first round at approximately 3:30 p.m. MT Saturday at Gill Coliseum in Corvallis, Oregon. The game will be broadcast on ESPN2.
No. 5 Gonzaga (28-4) and No. 12 Arkansas Little Rock (21-10) will meet in the other first-round matchup at 1:30 p.m. MT in Corvallis. Little Rock received a better seed than the Broncos despite a worse record and RPI ranking (61).
“It’s pretty disappointing when you’re a 39 and they’re 61. The rationale of that is pretty tough to swallow,” Boise State coach Gordy Presnell said. “... If we worry about things that we can’t control, then we’re just wasting time. We’ll have our team ready to play Saturday and we’ll meet Oregon State at half-court and see what happens.”
The NCAA Tournament bracket was mistakenly released early on ESPNU on Monday afternoon, and the results were leaked widely on Twitter, forcing ESPN to move up its 5 p.m. MT scheduled Selection Show to 3 p.m. MT on ESPN2.
“I didn’t see the leaked bracket. The University of Idaho coach called me and then the Oregon coach called me and everyone’s kind of in shock,” Presnell said. “They’re telling me and I kept saying, ‘No, you can’t be right.’ It’s too professional to be leaked ... but obviously they were correct.”
Oregon State, which features former Mountain View High star Destiny Slocum as its starting point guard, will host the first and second rounds on Saturday and Monday, March 25, respectively.
It’s common in women’s basketball for higher seeds to host first- and second-round games, and all competition in the first two rounds will be held at 16 campus sites. The winning team from each of the 16 second-round games at those sites advances to the regional round — in Boise State’s case, the Sweet 16 and Elite 8 games will be played in Albany, N.Y. The No. 1 seed in that region is Louisville, and No. 2 is perennial power UConn.
Boise State has never won an NCAA Tournament game.
“One thing, if you know (juniors) Riley (Lupfer) and Braydey (Hodgins) at all, they’ll be fired up,” Presnell said. “Any injustice that they think occurs, they’re going to run with. They’ll put it in their pocket, and I know we will get their best effort, and if we’re getting their best effort, the rest of the team will follow.”
Slocum, a transfer from Maryland, recently earned a spot on the Pac-12’s all-league teams, including one selected by the league and one by the media covering the league. The redshirt sophomore also is one of five finalists for the Nancy Lieberman Award, which recognizes the top point guard in women’s NCAA Division I college basketball.
“I don’t know if Destiny knows where Boise State is,” Presnell said when asked about the Broncos’ attempts to recruit Slocum. “We tried. We offered her, I think, when she was a freshman or sophomore in high school.
“Destiny Slocum is a terrific player. She’s highly, highly skilled. She’s a gym rat. She’s one of the premier guards in the whole country.”
Oregon State was upset in the Pac-12 Tournament quarterfinals by Washington, a team Boise State beat 73-69 on Dec. 16 in the championship game of the Husky Classic in Seattle. However, Oregon State did beat Washington twice during the regular season, by 11 and 47 points.
The Beavers’ most recent starting lineup included 6-foot-8 senior center Joanna Grymek, a native of Krakow, Poland. The tallest eligible players for Boise State are freshman Rachel Bowers and senior Marijke Vanderschaaf, who are both 6-3.
Last season, the Beavers advanced to the Elite 8, eventually losing 76-43 to Louisville, the same team that eliminated Boise State in the first round by a score of 74-42.
Boise State’s previous NCAA Tournament appearances came in 1994 (No. 9 seed at Washington), 2007 (No. 12 seed vs. George Washington), 2015 (No. 15 seed at Tennessee), 2017 (No. 13 seed at UCLA) and 2018 (No. 16 seed at Louisville). Only Boise State’s 2007 appearance came with a first-round matchup at a neutral site. The Broncos played the Colonials in Los Angeles.
Note: Idaho (20-11) and Idaho State (20-10) were each chosen to compete in the WNIT. The Vandals play at Loyola Marymount (18-14) in the first round, while the Bengals travel to Arizona (18-13). Both games are schedule for Thursday, and game times will be announced Tuesday.