► What’s Happening
Boise State University (7-7, 0-0 WAC) opens defense of its 2008 WAC regular season title this weekend on the road at the University of Idaho (3-8, 0-0 WAC) and Fresno State (8-4, 0-0 WAC). The campaign begins with arch-rival Idaho Saturday afternoon at 3:00 p.m. (Mountain) in Moscow. The opening weekend will conclude Monday night when the Broncos travel to central California for a battle between last year’s co-champions when they face Fresno State Bulldogs with tip-off scheduled for 8:00 p.m. (Mountain).
► Boise State in WAC Openers
Boise State dropped the first two conference games last year before running off a school record 14 straight wins, that streak is active heading into this weekend. They lost 73-63 at Fresno State on Jan. 5, 2008 to open WAC play last season. The Broncos are 2-5 all-time in WAC openers since joining the league for the 2001-02 campaign. Boise State is 1-1 in WAC openers played in Boise and 1-4 when on the road. The last time they won a league opener was January 4, 2007 at Utah State by the score of 80-70.
► The Broncos’ Record
The Broncos enter the week at 7-7 overall and are coming off a frustrating 53-48 loss at home to Arizona this past Monday, Dec. 29. Boise State has won five of their last eight contests. Prior to the Arizona loss, the Broncos finished their pre-Christmas schedule with back-to-back wins on a 57-51 road win at Santa Clara on Saturday, Dec. 20, followed by a 68-60 home victory over Saint Mary’s (CA) on Monday, Dec. 22.
► New Look Broncos
The Broncos had eight returning letterwinners from last year’s championship squad entering the 2008-09 campaign. However, injuries have since sidelined several Broncos including four players who were projected starters prior to the start of the season. At this time Boise State has four of the eight returning veterans available to them.
The team currently has one active starter back from last year in senior Jenna Galassi who started at power forward in 2007-08, she starts at small forward this season. Joining her now in the starting lineup are two players who competed last year and two redshirt sophomores. Seniors Jamia Malone and Brittany Moore who played last season as reserve guards now find themselves in starting roles. Meanwhile, redshirt-transfers Janie Bos and Marisa Stotler are now the starting power forward and center respectively. Entering this weekend the five have a combined 95 starts at Boise State with Galassi accounting for 54.
► Looking at Boise State As A Team
Under head coach Gordy Presnell, Boise State has become a program that is at its best pushing the ball up the floor in a up-tempo contest. However, injuries have impacted that tempo preference a bit in 2008-09. Offensively, the Broncos are averaging 63.4 points per game (3rd WAC) while shooting 37.3 percent (5th WAC) from the floor, 26.4 percent (7th WAC) from the 3-point arc, and 63.9 percent (6th WAC) from the free-throw line. Defensively, Boise State has allowed 64.3 points per game (4th WAC) while opponents have shot 37.5 percent (3rd WAC) from the floor and 26.3 percent (3rd WAC) from the 3-point line. On the glass, Boise State is out rebounded by an average of 1.7 per game (6th WAC), 41.1 (3rd WAC) to 42.9 (8th WAC) rebounds.
► Who To Watch For Boise State
The Broncos are currently led by a trio of underclassmen ranked in the top four for scoring on the team. Sophomore forward Marisa Stotler leads the team averaging team-highs in scoring and rebounding at 9.6 points and 6.7 boards per game. She is followed by freshman guard Heather Pilcher at 8.9 points and 1.6 rebounds. Meanwhile, senior guard Brittany Moore ranks third in scoring at 7.9 points per game to go with 1.9 rebounds. Freshman Courtney VanBrocklin is fourth adding 7.1 points, 3.4 rebounds, 2.4 assists per game.
Looking at Game 15
► The Game Boise State at Idaho - Saturday (1/3/09)
Saturday’s encounter between the Gem state’s two arch-rivals will be the 62nd meeting all-time in the series. The game features the WAC’s number three scoring offense in Boise State which is averaging 63.4 points per game and the league’s seventh ranked Idaho squad averaging 57 ppg. Defensively, the two are closer with the Vandals having the WAC’s third ranked defense allowing 63.1 points per game and the Broncos who are fourth giving up 64.3 per game.
► A Quick Look at the Series
Saturday’s game between Boise State and Idaho will be the 62nd edition of the all-time series in which the Broncos lead 35-26. This rivalry ranks tied for first in the Bronco record book for most times played versus any opponent matching the Boise State-Idaho State. Since Idaho joined the WAC for the 2005-06 season, the Broncos have won five of six meetings including four straight. Last year Boise State rallied to edged Idaho in Moscow 65-60 then defeated the Vandals 74-40 at Boise in the second encounter.
► Last Year
▪ Boise State swept both encounters.
▪ Boise State won a hard fought 65-60 game in Moscow.
▪ In Moscow, Jessica Thompson and Tasha Harris combined for 33 points in the game and 17-of-19 shooting from the free-throw line in the second half to lead the Broncos.
▪ In Moscow, three Vandals recorded double-digit points led by Katie Madison with 22 points and 10 boards, Alana Curtis added 13 points, while Yinka Olorunnife had four points and 14 rebounds.
▪ Boise State won 74-40 on Feb. 21, 2008 in Boise.
▪ In Boise, Katie Madison led Idaho with 11 points and six rebounds followed by Yinka Olorunnife with eight points and seven boards.
▪ In Boise, Jessica Thompson led four Broncos in double-figure scoring with 13 points and eight rebounds, Tasha Harris was second with 12 points, Ja'Lara Walker had 10 points and 10 boards, followed by Jamia Malone with 10 points.
▪ In Boise, Boise State forced 26 Idaho turnovers resulting in a 32-to-four advantage in points off turnovers.
▪ In Boise, The Broncos dominated the second half out scoring the Vandals 40-19 on 50 percent (16-32) shooting from the floor.
► Scouting Idaho
What’s Happened So Far - Idaho is in its first season under former Idaho State head coach Jon Newlee. The Vandals have gone 3-8 to date and have lost three straight to Washington State (53-50), Montana State (64-52), and Portland (48-44). As a Team - Entering Saturday’s game Idaho is a -6.1 in scoring margin (7th WAC) averaging 57 points per game (8th WAC) while allowing 63.1 ppg (3rd WAC). They have shot 35.9 percent (9th WAC) from the court, 23 percent (9th WAC) from the arc, and 65.7 percent (5th WAC) from the foul line. Who to Watch - Sophomore Yinka Olorunnife leads Idaho averaging a double-double with 14.1 points and 10.1 rebounds per game. Derisa Taleni is second in scoring at 12.7 ppg and 6.7 rpg, followed by Rachele Kloke at 9.2 ppgand 5.5 rpg. What’s Back From Last Year - Idaho returned four starters and four letterwinners from last year’s 4-25 squad that went 3-13 in the WAC last year to place eighth. Conference Preseason Polls - The league’s coaches picked the Vandals to place 9th in this year’s WAC race, while the media pegged them eighth.
Looking at Game 16
► The Game Boise State at Fresno State - Monday (1/5/09)
Monday’s game in Fresno, Calif., will be the first meeting of the year between last year’s WAC co-champions as Boise State and Fresno State tied for the the title with 14-2 records. While this will the Broncos second league contest of the season, it will be the Bulldogs’ first. Prior to Monday’s encounter Fresno State will play at UNLV on Friday. This game will also feature two of the conference’s top scoring offenses in league leading Fresno State averaging 73.8 points per game compared to Boise State’s third rank position at 63.4 points per game.
► A Quick Look at the Series
Monday’s game between Boise State and Fresno State will be the 20th of the all-time series. The Bulldogs currently hold a slime 11-9 lead. The teams have split the regular season series the last two years with the home team winning each time. However, Boise State has won three of the last four games which includes a 2007 WAC Tournament game. Last year Fresno State won 73-63 in Fresno, while Boise State countered with a 82-62 victory at Boise in the second contest.
► Last Year
▪ Fresno State won the first encounter 73-63 on Jan. 5, 2008 in Fresno.
▪ Boise State rallied from 21 points down in the second half to take a brief lead before fading down the stretch.
▪ Jessica Thompson and Tasha Harris combined for 43 points to lead Boise State.
▪ Fresno State was led by Hayley Munro and Tierre Wilson with 14 points each, followed by Jaleesa Ross with 13.
▪ Boise State won 82-62 on Jan. 28 in Boise.
▪ Boise State opened the game fast and never looked back racing out to a 15-3 lead.
▪ The Broncos shot 60 percent (18-30) in the second half to take a 25 point lead late in the game. They shot 52.4 percent for the game, while Fresno State hit 32.8 percent.
▪ Tasha Harris joined the 1,000 career point club that night with a team-high 24 points.
▪ Other Bronco high scorers were Jackie Lee with 15 points, followed by Jenna Galassi and Jessica Thompson with 11 each.
▪ Fresno State was led by LaShaunte Stephens with 17 points followed by Jaleesa Ross with 12.
► Scouting Fresno State
What’s Happened So Far - The Bulldogs enter conference play with the best overall record at 8-4 and have split their last six games winning every other one. Most recently they have played three-consecutive home games defeating Loyola Marymount 85-59, lost to West Virginia 68-63, then defeated Long Beach State 76-63 this past Monday. They travel to Las Vegas, Nev., for a Friday night encounter with UNLV. As a Team - Entering the weekend Fresno State leads the WAC in scoring averaging 73.8 points per game (1st WAC) while allowing 68.1 ppg (8th WAC). They have shot 40.7 percent (2nd WAC) from the court, 35.8 percent (1st WAC) from the arc, and 67.5 percent (4th WAC) from the foul line. They also lead the nation in 3-pointers made per game averaging 9.5. Who to Watch - Sophomore Jaleesa Ross leads Fresno State averaging 13.5 points (8th WAC) and 4.1 rebounds per game. Bailey Amundsen follows with 11.4 points and a team-high 7.8 rebounds per game, while Hayley Munro is third in scoring at 10.8 ppg to go with 6.2 boards. What’s Back From Last Year - The Bulldogs returned three starters and nine letterwinners from last year’s 22-11 squad that went 14-2 in the WAC last year tying for the regular season title. Conference Preseason Polls - The league’s coaches and media picked Fresno State to place second after battling Boise State for this year’s league title.