Contrasting styles collided Tuesday when the Boise State women’s basketball team met UNLV in the Mountain West Tournament quarterfinals at the Thomas & Mack Center.
The Broncos’ outside barrage wasn’t enough to overcome the Rebels’ advantage inside. The 3-pointers didn’t fall and the misses were smothered by UNLV off the rim.
Boise State’s attempt to defend its conference tournament championship fell short in the 71-65 loss. The Broncos fired up a school-record 42 attempts from 3-point range, seven more than in any game, and made 10.
“The rim kind of shrunk on us. We really struggled shooting, and that’s one of our strengths,” Boise State coach Gordy Presnell said. “The 3-point attempts, that’s on me. They were wide open and we have such good shooters, I kept thinking we were going to find our rhythm.”
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UNLV, which led the Mountain West with a plus-7.5 rebounds per game advantage, leaned on its strengths after a big advantage dwindled.
UNLV had a 16-point lead with 8:42 to play, but Boise State ripped off a 20-5 run, capped by junior guard Brooke Pahukoa’s free throws with 2:18 left that cut the lead to one.
But the Rebels, who had a 45-37 rebounding advantage, turned it around on an offensive rebound by senior forward Amie Callaway following a missed free throw the possession after Pahukoa hit her pair. Callaway then hit a 3-pointer, her only points of the game, for a 67-62 lead at 1:46.
“We said to the team, ‘They’re going to have a run, and they did make a great run in the fourth quarter,” UNLV coach Kathy Olivier said. “But our team handled that. We put our foot down and said, ‘No more.’”
Sophomore forward Shalen Shaw led Boise State with 17 points, 11 in the fourth quarter. Pahukoa added 16, guard Marta Hermida, the Mountain West freshman of the year, had 14 and junior guard Yaiza Rodriguez added 12 points and nine assists. Sophomore guard Brooke Johnson led UNLV with 17 points, while sophomore guards Dylan and Dakota Gonzalez, Highland High graduates, had 14 and 12 points, respectively.
Guard Brooke Johnson had 17 points and 10 rebounds to pace the Rebels, while guards Dylan and Dakota Gonzalez, graduates of Pocatello’s Highland High, had 14 and 12 points, respectively.
The Rebels had a 24-7 advantage in points off turnovers, though the teams had 14 turnovers apiece. UNLV attempted 21 free throws to the Broncos’ six.
Boise State senior center Miquelle Askew was held to two points on 1-of-5 shooting.
“We couldn’t get her going,” Presnell said. “She picked up an early foul and probably got a little tentative. ... That’s not an officiating thing, that’s totally on us, we didn’t make it to the rim.”
Said Shaw: “It took us until about the end of the second quarter, which was way too long” to adjust to the Rebels’ aggressive approach. UNLV had a 27-15 rebounding edge at the half, but Boise State had 22 to UNLV’s 18 in the second half.
“We fought hard to come back, and that’s what we’re going to take from this game,” Pahukoa said. “If we would have matched their physicality a little earlier, we might have been able to pull out at win.”
Prensell noted the five players he had in the final 8 minutes are due to return next season, including Pahukoa, the team’s leading scorer.
“I’m coming back hungry next year and hopefully it turns out differently,” she said.
The Rebels move on to the Mountain West semifinals to face Fresno State, while the Broncos await a possible postseason invitation.