After winning three straight Mountain West Tournament titles, players on the Boise State women’s basketball team have come to expect a degree of perfection every time they step on the court.
Exhibition games are no exception.
The Broncos led by as many as 44 points in a 79-39 exhibition victory over Concordia on Saturday at ExtraMile Arena, but the rout only left them eager to get back in the gym.
“It was fun to get out there and put the uniform on and that sort of thing,” Boise State coach Gordy Presnell said. “But I thought we lost some steam every time we went zone.”
Boise State raced out to a 28-7 lead and shot 61.1 percent from the floor in the first quarter. The switch to zone in the second quarter, however, allowed the Division II Cavaliers to make up a bit of ground.
“We have to be more disciplined than that,” Boise State senior guard Riley Lupfer said. “We had a good first quarter but then went down in the second quarter. If we want to beat good teams, we can’t have those missteps in a whole quarter like that. We definitely talked about that at halftime.”
The Broncos redeemed themselves with a 19-0 run to start the second half, holding the Cavaliers without a field goal in the third quarter and to 25.5 percent shooting for the game.
Senior guard Braydey Hodgins, the Preseason Mountain West Player of the Year, led all scorers with 15 points. Fellow starters Mallory McGwire (12 points, eight rebounds) and Lupfer (10 points, three assists) also reached double figures. Twelve Broncos got in the game, with 10 of them scoring two points or more.
The Broncos’ decorated senior group has plenty of records to shoot for or extend in 2019-20, but those individual accolades won’t take away from Boise State’s team goals.
“Our goals are always team-oriented,” Presnell said. “But obviously if there’s a chance for an individual to earn an award or a goal, we’re going to try to do that. But we don’t really talk much about that.”
Here are a few of the bigger milestones up for grabs:
▪ Lupfer already owns the single-season record for made 3-pointers (122) and sits at 242 for her career. The program career record is 260. She’ll also climb the career points ladder with 1,108 going into the season, which ranks No. 15.
▪ Hodgins has proven to be one of the most accurate shooters in program history from beyond the arc. Her career 3-point percentage of .394 is No. 2 in program history. The record is .470.
▪ Jayde Christopher had the second-most assists in a season with her 176 dishes in 2018-19. She’ll be eyeing the single-season record of 192 set by Yaiza Rodriguez during the 2016-17 season.
▪ A’Shanti Coleman sits at No. 3 with a career field-goal percentage of .516. She’s also a dangerous shot blocker with a career average of .95 blocks per game, which ranks No. 7.
Meet Mallory and Maggie
McGwire and freshman guard Maggie Freeman sat out last season.
McGwire came to Boise State from Oregon and had to sit per NCAA transfer rules, while Freeman took a redshirt season in 2018-19 with the Broncos loaded at guard.
The 6-foot-5 McGwire got the start in the exhibition opener and finished with 12 points, eight rebounds, two assists and two steals in 17 minutes. For those wondering about her last name, McGwire is the daughter of former San Diego State and Seattle Seahawks quarterback Dan McGwire. Her uncle is Mark McGwire, a longtime first baseman for the Oakland Athletics and St. Louis Cardinals.
Saturday’s exhibition was McGwire’s first game action in 585 days.
“It was kind of surreal, honestly,” McGwire said. “It was really fun to finally get to play with these girls. I can’t wait for the rest of the season.”
Freeman was sick this week, so she only played 3 minutes against the Cavaliers and scored two points. She’ll have a more significant role off the bench when she’s back to full strength, Presnell said.
Will the freshmen play?
It will be a wait-and-see scenario for the Broncos’ true freshmen, according to coach Presnell. One or all of them could be called into action if the Broncos lose a player to injury. It’s also possible all three will redshirt.
The three newbies each played in the exhibition.
▪ Kimora Sykes: The 6-0 forward from Rancho Cucamonga, California, averaged 11 points, eight rebounds and three steals a game while helping lead Etiwanda High to a 26-5 record as a senior. She also was named the team’s defensive MVP. Sykes played 8 minutes and grabbed four boards against the Cavaliers.
▪ Laia Soler: The 6-1 forward from Mataro, Spain, averaged 3.2 points and 2.8 rebounds over 11 games in 2018-19 for Segle XXI of Spain’s Liga Feminina 2 before having her campaign cut short due to injury. Soler played 10 minutes in the exhibition and totaled two rebounds and two fouls.
▪ Chinma Njoku: The 6-2 forward from Pocatello has the distinction of being the only Idahoan on the Broncos’ roster. As a senior, she averaged 15.0 points and 9.3 rebounds while shooting 58.9 percent from the field to carry Century High to a 4A state title, the Diamondbacks’ second with Njoku on the roster. Njoku pumped up the ExtraMile Arena crowd Saturday with four rebounds and three points in just 4 minutes.
Tough blow for Vanderschaaf
Marijke Vanderschaaf was granted a sixth year of eligibility after a knee injury cost her the majority of the 2017-18 season.
She played in 15 games for the Broncos last season, but complications from that original knee injury will likely keep her off the court again in 2019-20. She did not suit up for the Broncos’ exhibition win.
News & notes
The Broncos officially open the season Tuesday in a doubleheader with the men’s team at ExtraMile Arena. The women play Lewis-Clark State at 5:30 p.m. followed by the men against Life Pacific at approximately 8 p.m. All fans who arrive to the women’s game before halftime will receive free admission to the men’s game. Adult general admission to the women’s game is $6, and youth and senior tickets are $4. ... An NCAA rule change means the shot clock will reset to 20 seconds after an offensive rebound instead of the full 30 seconds. ... Sophomore Rachel Bowers and senior Ellie Woerner were the Broncos’ first two subs off the bench Saturday. Bowers contributed six points and five rebounds, while Woerner had 10 points on 4-of-5 shooting.
Soccer: Broncos win regular-season title
The Boise State women’s soccer team thought it might have blown its chance to win a second straight Mountain West regular-season title after a 1-0 loss at Utah State on Friday.
But San Diego State couldn’t seize the opportunity, losing 6-0 at New Mexico to leave the Broncos and Aztecs with identical league records of 8-3-0. Boise State won the head-to-head tiebreaker by virtue of a 2-1 victory over SDSU on Oct. 11.
The Broncos (16-4-0) will be the No. 1 seed in the Mountain West Tournament, which will be played Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday at the Boas Soccer Complex. They also earned the right to host the tournament again next season.
Boise State will play the winner of Tuesday’s first-round match between No. 4 New Mexico (10-7-1) and No. 5 San Jose State (7-8-4) in a 2 p.m. semifinal Thursday.