Boise State faces crucial road game at Nevada on Thursday...

Week 15 has one contest on the slate for the Broncos (17-6, 9-2 WAC) but it is a huge one at Nevada (17-6, 8-2 WAC) on Thursday night. This game pits Boise State currently second in the league table against Nevada, who is a half game back in third place, against each other for a 6:00 p.m. (Pacific) tip at the Lawler Events Center in Reno. For the Broncos it is the last game on their schedule against a team currently in the top half of the conference standings, meanwhile, Nevada has games against Louisiana Tech, New Mexico State, and Fresno State on the horizon. A win Thursday would give the victor an edge up on the other as they position themselves for the final stretch run to the WAC Tournament in March.

Looking at the Boise State Broncos . . .

Entering the week Boise State has gone 17-6 overall and 9-2 in Western Athletic Conference action which places them in second place in the league standings. They are currently one half game behind Fresno State at 9-1 and a half game ahead of Nevada at 8-2 in league play. The Broncos have won nine straight which ties them for the 13th longest active win streak in the NCAA. Boise State currently has two streaks going, besides the overall win streak of nine games they have now won 13 consecutive games at home dating back to last year with a win over San Jose State 82-59 on Feb. 10, 2007 in Bronco Gym.

Boise State returned three starters and seven letterwinners from last year’s championship team. They also added eight new faces to the squad. After struggling initially going 3-3 early, the Broncos slowly found their way finishing the non-conference slate at 8-4. Included in Boise State’s non-conference results is a 2-1 mark versus the PAC-10 and a 4-0 record against teams that went to postseason tournaments last year. The win over Nevada on Jan. 19 moved the Broncos’ record against 2007 postseason teams to 5-0 (3-0 vs. NCAA Tournament and 2-0 vs. WNIT).

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. The duo have both reached the 1,000 career points milestone this season.

Harris starts at the point guard position where she has scored double-figure points in 22-of-23 games and has led the Broncos in scoring 12 times this season. She enters this week second in the WAC in scoring at 16.6 points per game (NCAA 84th) to go with 4.2 rebounds, 3.6 assists (WAC 2nd), and 2.1 steals (WAC 7th). Harris was also a 2007 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 nine times and is ranked sixth in the WAC at 14.8 points per game. She had recorded double-digit points in 20-of-23 games.

Senior forward Jackie Lee has turned it on in league action averaging of 10.8 points (WAC 15th) and 5.3 rebounds (WAC 14th) per game. Meanwhile junior forward Jenna Galassi has been a major factor in WAC competition as well averaging 10.9 points (WAC14th) and 4.6 boards during conference.

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 and the nation’s 23rd on the year averaging 74.4 points per game on 40 percent (WAC 6th) shooting from the floor, 33 percent (WAC 4th) from three-point range, and a league best 71.9 percent from the foul line. In league games the Broncos are averaging 75.9 points (WAC 1st) per game and have scored 80 plus points in five times and have been held below 70 points only once during league play. They are ranked 20th nationally for three-pointers per game at 7.0 per contest.

Defensively As A Team . . .

Defensively, Boise State allows 67.9 points per game to rank eighth in the league. Meanwhile, opponents have shot 39.1 percent (WAC 4th) from the court and 31.5 percent (WAC 4th) from long range. Boise State is a +1.6 (WAC 5th) in rebound margin, 41.2 to 39.6 rpg. The Broncos are forcing 19.2 turnovers per game (WAC t-3rd) while giving it away 16.6 times per game (WAC 2nd), they are third in the WAC for turnover margin at +2.6.

Lately For The Broncos . . .

Boise State opened conference action going 1-2 on the road. The Broncos started off with two disappointing conference games to open league play at Fresno State 73-63 and at New Mexico State 79-65. In both games the Broncos dug themselves a huge hole then battled back only to fade down the stretch.

The Broncos have now won nine consecutive games heading into this week’s action. The streak began on Saturday, Jan. 12 when Boise State defeated Louisiana Tech 85-68 in Ruston. They became the first league opponent in Lady Techsters history to win in Ruston in two consecutive seasons.

Boise State then won two at home 85-77 over a pesky Utah State squad on Jan. 17, followed by a hard fought 82-74 win over Nevada on Jan. 19. The Broncos then traveled to Honolulu (Jan. 24) where they defeated the Hawaii Rainbow Wahine 77-73, followed by a big 82-62 win over WAC leaders Fresno State in Boise (Jan. 28).

Recently, Boise State had two road wins at San Jose State 78-51 (Jan. 31) and 65-60 at Idaho (Feb. 2). Last week the Broncos recorded two huge home wins defeating Louisiana Tech 70-54 (Feb. 7) and New Mexico State 83-82 in overtime (Feb.9). Boise State has now recorded a victory over every league member avenging their early losses at Fresno State and NMSU.


Game 24 Preview:  Boise State at Nevada . . .

The Game . . .

Thursday’s meeting with the Wolf Pack in Reno is 36th all-time between these longtime rivals. Tip is at 6:00 p.m. (Pacific) in the Lawler Events Center on the Nevada campus. The contest features the second and third place teams in the conference standings in Boise State and Nevada respectively. The winner will take a big step towards Fresno State at the top of the conference as they battle for the title in the final four weeks of league play.

A Bronco (9-2 WAC) win would place Boise State in a very favorable position as they try to defend their 2007 conference title. It would also give them a little more breathing room over Nevada and New Mexico State who will still be snipping at their heals one full game back in the standings. However, the remaining schedule is good for Boise State as they face the bottom four teams in the conference to close the season, three of them at home.

A win by Nevada would big huge for the Wolf Pack (8-2) who would leap past the Broncos into second place. Especially since they will close the regular season with contests at New Mexico State, at Louisiana Tech, and at home versus Fresno State. All three of those teams are in the top half of the WAC standings.

The Last Time (Game 17): Lee scores 20 to lead Broncos past Nevada 82-74 in key WAC game . . .

BOISE, Idaho (1/19/08) - Jackie Lee scored a season-high 20 points to lead Boise State over Nevada 82-74 in Taco Bell Arena. The Broncos recorded their third consecutive victory in league play with 80 plus points.

Five Broncos recorded double-figure points for Boise State in the solid overall team effort against the very physical Wolf Pack squad. The game was close throughout the night as the two traded baskets and mini runs for most of the contest. The 1,252 fans watched a hard fought contest that saw a combined 42 turnovers and 51 fouls. The teams played through 14 lead changes and eight ties in the game, including 11 leads changes and six ties in the final 20-minutes.

The teams picked up their intensity in the second stanza as Boise State out scored Nevada 51-43 during the period. Slowly Boise State pulled away from Nevada in the final minutes taking a 10-point lead with just over a minute to play. The Broncos closed the contest out by converting 11-of-12 free throws down the stretch. Galassi led the Broncos in crunch time at the charity stripe hitting all four of her attempts, followed by Stewart going three-for-four, while Lee and Jessica Thompson hit two each.

On the night, the Broncos made 45.3 percent (24-53) from the floor, 46.2 percent (6-13) from the arc, and 73.7 percent (28-38) from the free-throw line. Nevada finished with 37.1 percent (23-62) shooting from the court, 24 percent (6-25) from 3-point range, and hit 81.5 percent (22-27) of their foul shots.

Jackie Lee led five Broncos in double-digit scoring with 20 points to go with a team-high eight rebounds, one assist, one block, and five steals in 37 minutes. Jenna Galassi and Tasha Harris each added 13 points. Amanda Stewart was solid with 12 points and seven rebounds, Jamia Malone matched Stewart’s points to round out the top five scorers.

Dellena Criner recorded 33 points, seven rebounds, and three assists to lead Nevada. Johnna Ward and Jennifer Gross each chipped in with 10 points apiece. Gross led the Wolf Pack on the boards with eight followed by Criner’s seven and Bre’Anna Henry’s six.

The Series . . .

Thursday’s encounter will be the 36th all-time in the series. Boise State has dominated the series owning a 27-8 advantage all-time. However, the teams have split the season series each of the last three seasons with the home team winning all six contests. Last year’s game in Reno went to overtime before the Wolf Pack won 81-70. Earlier this season Boise State won game one of 2008 in Boise on Jan. 19 by the score of 82-74. The Broncos are 10-5 all-time versus Nevada in Reno.

Scouting Nevada . . .

The Wolf Pack enters the week in third place at 8-2 a half game behind the Broncos. Nevada is 17-6 overall and has won three straight over Utah State (75-55), at San Jose State (78-62), and at Hawai’i (74-69) their last time out on Feb. 9.

Nevada is in its fifth season under the direction of head coach Kim Gervasoni who has accumulated a 58-86 record at the school. They returned three starters and 11 letterwinners from last season’s 17-15 squad that went 10-6 in WAC play to finish tied for third and advanced to the WNIT. The 2007-08 Wolf Pack team was picked to place second this season by the conference’s coaches and third by the media.

Statistically For The Wolf Pack . . .

As a Team: Nevada entered the week with the third ranked scoring offense in the WAC averaging 70.3 points per game while giving up 63.9 ppg (WAC 2nd). They have been shooting 41.2 percent (WAC 4th) from the floor, 33.1 percent from 3-point range (WAC 3rd), and 69.9 percent (WAC 4th) from the free-throw line. Opponents have shot 42.8 percent (WAC 6th) from the court and 31.2 percent (WAC 4th) from the arc. The Wolf Pack are seventh in the league for rebounding averaging 35.5 boards per game.

Who to Watch: Dellena Criner leads the Wolf Pack and the WAC in scoring at 17.3 points in addition to 3.4 rebounds, and 3.1 assists per game. Mikail Price is the only other Nevada player averaging double-digit points at 10.3 per game.

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