BOISE, Idaho - Yaiza Rodriguez Ortego scored a season-high 20 points to lead Boise State to a 68-63 win over San Diego State Saturday afternoon in Boise. With 3:18 to go in the second quarter Marta Hermida hit a 3-pointer to give Boise State a 26-24 lead, the Broncos never trailed again.
"I am so excited that we won, we have had a rough last two weeks," said head coach Gordy Presnell. "San Diego State has improved tremendously over the last month and they were coming in on a five-game win streak. I was really pleased with the way we played offensively in the fourth quarter and shot over 50 percent hitting big baskets when we needed them."
The Broncos used a 7-0 run midway through the fourth quarter to take a game-high 10-point lead at 61-51 then held off a Aztec rally attempt to claim the victory. The win snapped a four-game losing skid for Boise State as the Broncos secured a top-five league finish to clinch a first-round bye at the Mountain West Tournament March 7-11 in Las Vegas. Boise State completed the season sweep of SDSU for the first time ever to improve to 17-10 overall and 10-6 in conference play, while the Aztecs lost for the first time in six games to fall to 11-16 overall and 6-10 in conference.
"Defensively, I thought we communicated and rebounded well today," Presnell said. "We had a couple people play in an out today that I thought did well down the stretch. Miquelle (Askew) hit a big shot late, and Shay (Shaw) was in foul trouble all day, but made huge, huge rebounds for us late. The other person I thought was outstanding was Marijke (Vanderschaaf), she has a lot of talent. It is just a matter of her getting her confidence level up."
It is the first time in last five games that the Broncos have led after one quarter, at halftime and after three periods. The last time was in their win over Air Force on Feb. 6th, that was the last win before the Broncos' four-game losing streak began.
Rodriguez Ortego was on fire from beyond the 3-point line Saturday going 5-of-9 from long distance, a career-high for made treys, as she finished with a season-high for points and her first game this year with 20-plus points. The junior from Barcelona also tied for the team-high in assists with four.
"I just have two games left in the season so this was one of my last chances to score," said Rodriguez. "I usually don't feel comfortable taking a shooting role, I usually like getting my teammates the ball for assists, but it was time for me to shot and I did ... at some point I knew my 3-pointers were going to go in and they did today. I just had to believe they would."
Brooke Pahukoa was the second of three Broncos to reach double-digit points finishing with 12 giving her 17 games in double-figure scoring. Pahukoa tied for the team-high in rebounding with six to go with one block and two steals.
Freshman Marta Hermida has been solid for the Broncos over the last three weeks as she recorded double-figure points for the fifth-consecutive game finishing with 11 against the Aztecs. Hermida tied for the team-high in rebounds, assists and steals with six, four and two, respectively.
Boise State opened the game well shooting 57 percent (4-7) from beyond the arc, two by Rodriguez, in the first period to take a 16-11 lead after 10 minutes.
Shalen Shaw picked up her third foul with 9:07 to play in the second quarter. The third leading scorer for Boise State entering the game was held to four points, but she still tied for the team-high in rebounds with six. She came up with a couple big boards for the Broncos in the final minutes to help Boise State hold off San Diego State.
Broncos led 33-29 at the half powered by 14 Rodriguez points on 4-of-6 shooting from 3-point range.
The game remained close throughout the third quarter as the Aztecs came back and tied the game up at 43 with 3:10 to go in period. That was as close as SDSU would come as Hermida answered for Boise State 17 seconds later with her second 3-pointer of the game. The Broncos eventually took a three-point 48-45 advantage into the final period.
Up three at 54-51 with 6:05 to go in the fourth period, Boise State rolled off a 7-0 run to take control up a game-high 10 points at 61-51 with 4:33 left. San Diego State tried to comeback with a 6-0 run closing it to four at 61-57 but could get no closer as the Blue and Orange held on for the win.
Freshman Marijke Vanderschaaf played 16 big minutes for the Broncos finishing with eight points, four rebounds and one block. Miquelle Askew had six points, three rebounds, one assist and one steal. Lexie Der added five points and five rebounds along with one assist.
After struggling shooting the last couple weeks, this was the second straight contest Boise State shot 40 percent or better from the floor finishing at 41.8 percent (23-55) against the Aztecs. The Broncos also shot a solid 47.6 percent (10-21) from beyond the arc and 85.7 percent (12-14) from the free-throw line. Boise State out rebounded San Diego State 32-to-31 and held a 9-to-4 advantage in second chance points.
San Diego State shot 47.2 percent (25-53) from the floor, 41.7 percent (5-12) from the 3-point arc and 61.5 percent (8-13) from the free-throw line. McKynze Fort led SDSU with 20 points followed by 14 from Ahjalee Harvey.
Next up for Boise State is the final regular-season road trip to Nevada in Reno on Tuesday night, followed by the regular season finale next Friday at home against San Jose State, the team tied with the Broncos for third place in the MW standings.