Like Las Vegas visitors, the Boise State women’s basketball team hopes to go on a hot streak this week. And if it’s going to happen, it needs to start with the Broncos’ sparkplug point guard.
When Boise State stormed through three wins in four days en route to last year’s Mountain West Tournament championship, Yaiza Rodriguez spearheaded the charge. Then a sophomore, she averaged 13.7 points, 4.0 rebounds, 5.3 assists and 1.7 steals a game during the run.
“Last year, we had a team with individuals that could make plays on their own, but this year, we’re at our best when everyone’s playing together, and that’s my responsibility to get that going,” Rodriguez said. “If we want to win it again, I need to play well.”
No. 3-seeded Boise State (19-10) opens its title defense Tuesday at the Thomas & Mack Center against No. 6 UNLV (17-13).
Rodriguez has scored more than 13 points in only five games this season, usually deferring to her teammates. Her 163 assists this season broke her own school record of 147, set last season. With 415 career assists, she is 36 behind Tricia Bader for the most in Boise State history. Rodriguez’s 7.1 points per game are slightly above last season’s 6.9 average.
“She’s definitely running our offense well. She’s getting better at calling different specials — we run about 60 different things,” Boise State coach Gordy Presnell said. “But we definitely would like to see her score more, she was the freshman of the year when she did. We’d like to see her take a step forward in the tournament like last year.”
Senior center Miquelle Askew said Rodriguez’s confidence has increased as she’s become more of a vocal, fiery leader. Rodriguez knows that confidence has to carry over into her offensive game, a concept that isn’t just something Presnell has preached.
“It’s not just him,” Rodriguez said. “In the timeout, the other girls are like, ‘Shoot the ball.’ I’m thinking about my point guard role all the time, thinking about passing. I’m like, ‘OK, OK.’ I know I can’t finish this season without trying to score more.”
UNLV advanced to Tuesday’s game with a first-round victory over Air Force 55-42. ... Boise State and UNLV split their regular season games, with the Broncos winning 75-56 on Jan. 29 in Boise and the Rebels winning 78-68 on Feb. 24 in Las Vegas.
Four Broncos were honored on the All-Mountain West team Monday: junior guard Brooke Pahukoa and sophomore forward Shalen Shaw, senior center Miquelle Askew (honorable mention) and guard Marta Hermida (freshman of the year and all-freshman team).
Pahukoa leads the Broncos with 13.8 points per game in Mountain West play, and Shaw has averaged a double-double with 12.2 ppg and 10.1 rebounds per game. Hermida scored 10.7 ppg in conference games, earning the Broncos’ second freshman of the year award in the last three seasons, while Askew added 12.2 ppg.