Boise State (8-5, 0-1 WAC) continues their three game road trip to open Western Athletic Conference action play beginning at New Mexico State (11-3, 1-0 WAC) this Thursday followed by an encounter with Louisiana Tech (6-7,0-1 WAC) Saturday night.
The NMSU Aggies have been the hottest team so far this season going a league best 10-3 in non-conference action and are now 11-3 overall. Tip-off at the Pan American Center in Las Cruces, N.M. this Thursday is 7:00 p.m. (Mountain).
The two defending WAC co-champions Boise State and Louisiana Tech will meet at the Thomas Assembly Center on Saturday night in Ruston, La. at 7:00 p.m. (Central). The Lady Techsters have struggled a bit this season compared to previous years going 6-8 overall. They will host the Idaho Vandals on Wednesday night before their meeting with the Broncos this weekend.
Lately For The Broncos...
Boise State (8-5) is coming off a disappointing conference opener last Saturday when they dropped a 10-point decision, 73-63, at Fresno State. They fell behind by 21points early in the second half before rallying on a 28-4 run to claim a five point, 48-43, lead. Jessica Thompson recorded24 second half points to lead the visitors. Unfortunately, the Broncos ran out of gas following the run as Fresno State regrouped for the victory.
Boise State won their final non-conference game 78-74 at instate rival Idaho State (8-4) on Saturday, Dec. 29. Jessica Thompson, Jackie Lee, and Tasha Harris combined for 51 points and 19 rebounds to lead the Broncos past the Bengals in Pocatello. The win gave Boise State a 4-0 record over teams that advanced to the postseason last year.
Looking at the Boise State Broncos . . .
The Broncos are 8-5 overall entering this week’s competition. They lost at Fresno State to open league play last Saturday. Prior to that, they had won five of their last six contests. The lone loss in that stretch was on a buzzer beater at Arizona, 62-61, on Dec. 12.
With eight new faces on the team and some early injuries, Boise State struggled to get going this season. They opened with two solid home wins over Loyola Marymount (71-67) and Montana (70-64), then stumbled on the road losing their first three "away" games at Santa Clara (73-51), Saint Mary’s (78-63), and Portland (84-80). Their lone "road" victory at the time was a neutral site victory over Cal State Bakersfield (83-53) at Saint Mary’s on Nov. 23.
The players began to gel and figure out their roles during the Portland game. Since then the team has begun to roll going 5-2. The Broncos swept their next three opponents with dominating wins at home over Oral Roberts (73-64) and Washington (88-66), followed by a come from behind win at Washington State (71-64). They closed their pre-Christmas schedule with the heartbreaking loss at Arizona (62-61) and a commanding 87-60 win at home over Sacramento State.
They returned from a two-week break for finals and Christmas for their final non-conference game before starting their WAC title defense. The Broncos traveled to instate rival Idaho State on Dec. 29 where they won a hard-fought battle, 78-74, over the 2007 NCAA Tournament participants from Pocatello, Idaho.
Boise State is currently undefeated at home this season going 5-0 to date. They have trailed at home by a combined 37 seconds in the last nine halves or 180 minutes played at Taco Bell Arena in Boise. The Broncos’ five wins to date has moved their record to 26-6 at home since Coach Presnell took over for the 2005-06 campaign, three years ago.
Boise State is the defending Western Athletic Conference champions after going 12-4 in league play last season. They set a school record for overall wins after finishing 24-9 during the 2006-07 campaign highlighted by the WAC’s regular season and tournament titles, and a NCAA Tournament first round appearance where they lost 76-67 to George Washington. This year’s Boise State team was picked to repeat their conference championship in 2008 by both the league’s coaches and media.
Who To Watch For The Broncos . . .
Boise State has arguably the best backcourt combination in the Western Athletic Conference in juniors Tasha Harris and Jessica Thompson, both have scored double figure points in every game this season. The two guard combo is ranked first and second respectively in the WAC for scoring and average a combined 34 points per game, or nearly half of Boise State’s total of 72.2 per game.
Harris starts at the point guard position where she has led the Broncos in scoring seven times. She enters this week leading the WAC in scoring at 17.1 points per game (NCAA 65th) to go with 3.8 rebounds, 3.5 assists (WAC 3rd), and 1.8 steals (WAC t-13th). Harris is a 2007 WAC Preseason All-WAC Second Team honoree.
Thompson is the WAC’s Preseason Player of the Year. The junior starts at the shooting guard position where she has led the team in scoring six times and is ranked second in the WAC at 16.7 points per game. In addition, she averages 4.5 boards, 2.0 assists, and 2.5 steals (WAC 2nd).
Offensively As A Team . . .
Boise State is an up-tempo team who looks to push the ball up the floor. The Broncos feature the WAC’s top ranked scoring offense averaging 72.2 points per game (NCAA 47th) on 38.9 percent (WAC 7th) shooting from the floor, 32.1 percent (WAC 4th) from three-point range, and 69.9 percent (WAC 2nd) from the foul line. They are ranked 30th nationally for three-pointers per game at 6.9 per contest.
Defensively As A Team . . .
Defensively, Boise State allows 67.8 points per game to rank fifth in the league. Meanwhile, opponents have shot 39.8 percent (WAC 4th) from the court and 31.6 percent (WAC 3rd) from long range. Boise State is a +2.8 (WAC 4th) in rebound margin, 42.2 to 39.4 rpg. The Broncos are forcing 18.9 turnovers per game (WAC 5th) while giving it away 16.6 times per game (WAC t-2nd), they are third in the WAC for turnover margin at +2.3.
Scouting Game 14
Boise State (8-5, 0-1 WAC) at New Mexico St. (11-3, 1-0 WAC)
7:00 p.m. (Mountain) Thursday, Jan. 10
Las Cruces, N.M. (Pan American Center)
The Series . . .
Thursday’s encounter will be the 16th all-time in the series. Boise State swept three games last year over the Aggies to take a 9-6 lead in the series. Last season the Broncos won 66-52 in Las Cruces (Jan. 11), 77-59 in Boise (Feb. 1), and 49-46 in the WAC Tournament championship game in Las Cruces (March 10).
A Quick Look At New Mexico State . . .
The Aggies enter the week in second place in the WAC standings at 1-0 and 11-3 overall. They won their league opener 73-61 over Idaho last week. They had a conference best 10-3 in non-league action. Notable wins are 58-42 over New Mexico in Las Cruces.
New Mexico State is in its fifth season under the direction of Darin Spence where he has accumulated a 56-76 record. The Aggies returned four starters and nine letterwinners from last year’s 13-18 team that place seventh in the conference with a 6-10 mark. The 2007-08 NMSU team was picked to place in the middle of the pack in both WAC preseason polls, the coaches projected them fifth while the media tabbed them fourth.
Statistically For The Aggies . . .
As a Team: New Mexico State features the WAC’s fifth ranked scoring offense on the year averaging 67.9 points per game while giving up a league best 62.2 ppg. They have been shooting 40.4 percent (WAC 3rd) from the floor, 31.6 percent from 3-point range (WAC 5th), and 69.8 percent (WAC 3rd) from the free throw line. Opponents have shot 36.0 percent (WAC 1st) from the court and 25 percent (WAC 1st) from the arc. The Aggies are averaging 42.8 boards per game (WAC 2nd).
Who to Watch: New Mexico State is led by first team Preseason All-WAC honoree Sherell Neal. The senior forward averages 13.4 points per game (WAC 6th) to go with 9.4 rebounds (WAC 3rd). Anikia Jawara is second in scoring at 11.4 points per game followed by Madison Spence at 10.5 ppg.
Miscellaneous Notes . . .
► Boise State went 3-0 versus New Mexico State last season.
► Junior guard Jessica Thompson is four points short of her 1,000th career point. She will officially become the 13th Broncos to reach that plateau.
► Senior forward Jackie Lee is three rebounds of her 500th career board. She will be the 14th player ever to record 500 rebounds.
► Coach Gordy Presnell will coach in his 600th career collegiate game as a head coach at New Mexico State on Thursday. He is 443-156 all-time.
► Jessica Thompson averaged 11.3 points per game last year versus NMSU. Tasha Harris had 8.7 ppg.
► In three games last season against the Aggies, Boise State averaged 64.0 points a game. New Mexico State averaged 52.3. The Broncos were a +11.7 in scoring margin.
► Sherell Neal led the Aggies against the Broncos last season averaging 14.0 points and 10.0 rebounds per game. Anikia Jawara was second at 13.7 ppg and 8.7 rebounds. Both played in all three contest versus Boise State.