Boise State Basketball

Boise State women’s basketball team seeks ‘final piece’ to an already historic season

Watch Boise State’s press conference for its NCAA opener at Oregon State

Boise State women's basketball coach Gordy Presnell and players Braydey Hodgins, Marta Hermida and Joyce Harrell speak to the media before their NCAA Tournament opener against Oregon State.
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Boise State women's basketball coach Gordy Presnell and players Braydey Hodgins, Marta Hermida and Joyce Harrell speak to the media before their NCAA Tournament opener against Oregon State.

Statistically speaking, the Boise State women’s basketball team is the clear underdog in its first-round NCAA Tournament matchup against Oregon State.

The Broncos (28-4) are seeded 13th and must play the fourth-seeded Beavers (24-7) on their home floor.

Oregon State advanced to the Elite 8 last season and is 12-9 all-time in NCAA Tournament games, while Boise State has yet to win one in five previous tries.

The Beavers have beaten 10 teams ranked among the Top 10 in The Associated Press Poll since the start of the 2014-15 season. The Broncos are 2-38 all-time against teams ranked in the Top 25, and have never beaten a Top 10 team.

They’re the kind of statistics that make these particular underdogs all the more hungry.

“I think our experiences (in the tournament) the past couple of years have been pretty big losses,” Boise State junior Braydey Hodgins said. “We’re not looking to have that this year. We’re excited to compete (Saturday), and hopefully come up on the other end.”

Tipoff between the Broncos and Beavers will be on ESPN2 30 minutes following the 1:30 p.m. MT opening game between No. 5 Gonzaga and No. 12 Little Rock at Gill Coliseum. It is the first meeting between the two schools since Oregon State won 66-55 on Dec. 31, 2000.

“This week to get to know their team and to study their team, it’s just everything that I would have expected,” Oregon State coach Scott Rueck said of Boise State during a press conference Friday afternoon. “Everything makes sense. They’re very disciplined. It’s hard to find a crack in anything they do, to be honest.

“I love their team. They seem to have a great culture, which it takes to go 28-4. They have fun playing and they are hyper-competitive. They love to win.”

A win Saturday over the Beavers would be historic for Boise State, which is playing in its third straight NCAA Tournament after earning the Mountain West’s automatic bid with its third conference tournament title in a row.

Boise State seniors Marta Hermida and Joyce Harrell have collected 95 wins — including a program record 28 this season — and five league championships in four seasons. But their college careers still feel a bit incomplete.

“I feel like we’ve both had a wonderful career here, but that’s like the last piece that we’re missing,” Harrell said. “We’ve won championships. We’ve had great seasons, but this is the final piece, to get a win in the tournament.”

Broncos’ secret weapon revealed?

There is only one person currently associated with the Boise State women’s basketball program who has been present for every one of the Broncos’ NCAA Tournament appearances.

Assistant coach Heather Sower was on the 1994 Boise State team that became the first in program history to make the NCAAs. Now in her 17th season as an assistant, Sower has been a coach for the Broncos during their other NCAA bids in 2007, 2015, 2017, 2018 and 2019.

“I think back 100 years ago when I made it as a player, it was such a breakthrough moment for Boise State,” Sower said. “Now these guys are searching for their new breakthrough moment, and that’s getting that win (Saturday) afternoon.”

Sower’s 1993-94 team can also claim the program’s only two victories over ranked opponents. The Broncos beat No. 15 Western Kentucky and No. 20 Montana in January of 1994.

“You realize as a coach how much work it actually takes to get here. You take it a little bit for granted when you’re a player in the moment,” Sower said. “... It’s so much work and blood and sweat and tears that these guys have to put in to it, all of us have to put into it, between our trainers and our strength coach and our nutritionist. I think that’s where we feel the anxiety and the pressure. This is your moment, and you’ve got to make the most of it.”

All bets are off

Oregon State junior guard Mikayla Pivec has put her younger sister, Boise State sophomore Malia Pivec, between a rock and a hard place this week.

With the two schools facing off in the first round of the NCAA women’s basketball tournament on Saturday, Malia’s allegiances are being pulled in opposite directions.

But the older Pivec put her foot down during a press conference Friday afternoon.

“We can’t place any bets due to eligibility,” Mikayla Pivec said. “But I have talked to her just a little bit. And despite what her teammates are encouraging her to do, she’s rooting for us.”

Both sisters attended Lynnwood High in Washington.

Pierce sets NCAA record in Idaho’s WNIT win

Senior guard Taylor Pierce made five triples and scored 24 points as the University of Idaho women’s basketball team defeated Loyola Marymount 79-64 in the first round of the WNIT on Thursday night at Gersten Pavilion in Los Angeles.

Pierce now has 143 made 3-pointers this season, which is an NCAA Division I single-season record. The previous record was 141 set by Jessica Kovatch of Saint Francis (Pa.) last season.

The victory also is Idaho’s first in the WNIT since 1986, when the Vandals went on to win the tournament.

Idaho (21-11) will host Denver (18-13) — an 83-75 winner over New Mexico — in the second round on Sunday at Memorial Gym in Moscow. Tipoff is 3 p.m. MT.

“It’s great to be coming home,” Idaho coach Jon Newlee said in a press release. “Thanks to everyone who stepped up to get us home and have a NIT game in Memorial Gym. It’s going to be awesome. Let’s get that place rocking and sell it out.”

Note: Idaho State (20-11) lost 66-56 to Arizona (19-13) on Thursday in the first round of the WNIT at the McKale Center in Tucson, Arizona.

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