Boise State Basketball

Boise State dispatches one NCAA Tournament team, will host a Sweet 16 squad Sunday

The Boise State women’s basketball team is just two games into the 2019-20 season, but it’s never too early to start thinking about the NCAA Tournament.

If the Broncos hope to stand out to the selection committee in March, they could use a resume-building win in November.

Boise State (2-0) will get that chance Sunday when it hosts Missouri State (2-0) at 2 p.m. in the quarterfinals of the Preseason WNIT. The Broncos rolled past Portland State 82-57 in the first round Friday at ExtraMile Arena to set up Sunday’s matchup against the Bears, who advanced to the Sweet 16 last season.

“I think it’s a testament to how good our program has gotten over these past years,” Boise State senior Riley Lupfer said. “Putting ourselves in the position to play Missouri State and enter tournaments like this. We’re excited to play these good teams.”

The Broncos have made three straight NCAA Tournament appearances but have struggled each year when it comes to seeding. They were a No. 13 seed in 2019, No. 16 in 2018 and No. 13 in 2017, each time drawing a ranked opponent on its home court.

Boise State received votes in The Associated Press and Coaches’ preseason Top 25 polls. The Broncos potentially could crack the Top 25 for the first time since 1994 with a strong run in the Preseason WNIT, starting with a victory against Missouri State.

“It is a big game,” Boise State coach Gordy Presnell said. “It won’t hurt us, but it could really help us if we could compete and get a win against those guys. They are going to be really good.”

On Friday night, the Broncos began to pull away from the reigning Big Sky champions with a 13-0 run spanning the end of the first quarter and start of the second. Boise State made seven of its 11 3-pointers in the second quarter, including three from Lupfer, who knocked down six triples in all. Sophomore Jade Loville made two 3-pointers, and redshirt freshman Maggie Freeman scored the first points of her Bronco career by swishing a 3-pointer at the halftime buzzer for a 51-23 lead.

Lupfer finished with a game-leading 20 points and is now just nine 3-pointers away from breaking Abby Vaughan’s program career record of 260.

“She has an incredible work ethic. She loves the game, and she loves competing,” Presnell said. “I think in the first half she was just really ready to go, and the hoop was really big for her.”

Boise State didn’t ease up on the Vikings when Presnell turned to his bench. Reserves accounted for 40 of the Broncos’ total points, with sophomores Rachel Bower (15 points, six rebounds) and Loville (14 points, five rebounds) each reaching double figures. Redshirt senior Ellie Woerner pulled down a game-high 11 boards to go with six points and two assists.

“They’re really unbelievable,” Lupfer said of the Broncos’ reserves. “How do you ... guard five people to start that are good and then five people off the bench that are equally as good?”

The Broncos led the Vikings (1-1) by as many as 37 points and had 25 assists on 33 total field goals. They’ll need to be every bit as good — and then some — against the Bears.

Missouri State won 77-69 at No. 23 Minnesota on Tuesday, giving the Bears wins over ranked opponents in four of their last six games dating back to the end of last season. Their only loss in that span came against No. 6 Stanford in the Sweet 16, and Missouri State beat Texas A&M-Corpus Christi 79-51 on Friday behind senior guard Alexa Willard’s game-leading 30 points. Junior guard Elle Ruffridge added 20 points with six 3-pointers.

“They’re going to play with a lot of confidence early, and we’ve got to be able to match that confidence,” Presnell said.

BOISE ST. 82, PORTLAND ST. 57

PORTLAND ST. (1-1)

Desirae Hansen 3-12 3-4 10; Belle Frazier 3-13 2-4 10; Jordan Stotler 3-7 2-2 8; Kylie Jimenez 3-11 1-2 8; Tatiana Streun 3-5 1-3 7; Labrea Denson 1-1 4-4 6; Syd Schultz 1-1 3-4 5; Cassidy Gardner 1-2 0-0 3; Jada Lewis 0-3 0-0 0; Ruchae Walton 0-0 0-0 0; Marina Canzobre 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 18-56 16-23 57.

BOISE ST. (2-0)

Riley Lupfer 7-13 0-0 20; Rachel Bowers 7-9 1-2 15; Jade Loville 5-10 2-2 14; Mallory McGwire 5-8 0-0 10; Ellie Woerner 3-11 0-2 6; Jayde Christopher 2-3 0-0 5; Maggie Freeman 2-4 0-0 5; Braydey Hodgins 1-6 2-2 5; A’Shanti Coleman 1-7 0-0 2; Laia Soler 0-6 0-0 0. Totals 33-77 5-8 82.

Portland St................... 13 10 12 22 — 57

Boise St...................... 21 30 19 12 — 82

3-point goals — Portland St. 5-15 (Frazier 2-5; Hansen 1-3; Jimenez 1-2; Gardner 1-2; Lewis 0-3), Boise St. 11-28 (Lupfer 6-12; Loville 2-4; Hodgins 1-3; Christopher 1-2; Freeman 1-3; Soler 0-3; McGwire 0-1). Fouled out — None. Rebounds — Portland St. 37 (Streun 7; Stotler 7), Boise St. 49 (Woerner 11). Assists — Portland St. 10 (Jimenez 4), Boise St. 25 (Christopher 7). Total fouls — Portland St. 15, Boise St. 19. Technical fouls — None. A — 964.

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