Broncos face crucial weekend in title defense.
► What’s Happening This Weekend
Boise State University’s (13-10, 6-3 WAC) WAC title defense faces a big four-game homestand beginning with San Jose State (2-21, 1-9 WAC) and league leading Fresno State (17-6, 8-2 WAC) this weekend. Following last weekend’s road sweep the Broncos find themselves tied for third place and back in the hunt for the league title currently one and a half games back of leader Fresno State. This is a crucial stretch for Boise State who hosts five of its last seven games including home contests versus the top three teams in the conference standings. In addition to the chance of moving up the league standings, also at stake this weekend is the defense of the Broncos’ 14-game home win streak against conference opponents.
The action begins Friday at 7:00 p.m. (Mountain) in Taco Bell Arena when Boise State hosts the San Jose State Spartans in the first encounter of the year between the two. The game will feature the Broncos’ fourth ranked scoring offense (61.7 ppg) versus San Jose State’s ninth ranked offensive squad (52.2 ppg).
The weekend will conclude with a battle between the two defending WAC champions from 2008 when Boise State faces WAC leading Fresno State Sunday afternoon at 2:00 p.m. (Mountain) in Taco Bell Arena. This is the return match following the Bulldogs’ 62-52 victory over the Broncos in Fresno, Calif., on Jan. 5. Fresno State will play at Idaho Friday night prior to their trip to Boise. The Bulldogs bring with them the top scoring offense in the conference averaging 71.6 points per game and the nation’s top ranked 3-point shooting team averaging 9.6 treys per game.
► About The Broncos
The Broncos enter the week at 13-10 overall and 6-3 in WAC play, good for a third-place tie in the conference standings with Idaho. Boise State looks to continue their momentum coming off its first road sweep of the year with victories at New Mexico State (79-77 ot) and at Louisiana Tech (66-61). In both games the Broncos were forced to rally for the win. This year the Broncos have been tough to beat at home going 8-3 in Taco Bell Arena, the three losses have been by an average of 5.7 points per game. They currently have a 14-game home win streak going over league rivals.
● The Man In Charge...
Gordy Presnell - The Broncos are in their fourth year under the leadership of head coach Gordy Presnell. To date, he has gone 76-42 while at Boise State and 472-169 in 22 seasons as a collegiate head coach. In competition versus Fresno State he has gone 3-5, Presnell is 4-3 in games coached against San Jose State.
● As a Team...
Offensively - The Broncos have struggled scoring averaging 61.7 points per game (4th WAC) while shooting 36.6 percent (8th WAC) from the floor, 26.6 percent (9th WAC) from the 3-point arc, and 65.8 percent (6th WAC) from the free-throw line.
Defensively - Boise State’s strength this year is defense allowing 62.7 points per game (6th WAC) while opponents have shot 37.3 percent (3rd WAC) from the floor and 26.8 percent (2nd WAC) from the 3-point line. On the glass, Boise State is out rebounded by an average of 1.3 boards per game (6th WAC), 41.2 (3rd WAC) to 42.5 (8th WAC) rebounds.
● Who To Watch...
Marisa Stotler - The sophomore forward currently leads the team in scoring while coming in off the bench. She is averaging 9.4 points and a second-best 6.0 rebounds per game, 13th (tied) in the WAC on the glass.
Heather Pilcher - The freshman guard is second on the team in scoring at 8.9 points per game. The Lynwood, Calif., native has led the Broncos in scoring three times during league play.
Brittany Moore - The senior guard ranks third in scoring at 7.6 points per game. She missed the Idaho and Fresno State games because of injury but returned against Hawaii in a reserve role. Prior to her injury versus Arizona on Dec. 29, she had led the Broncos in scoring during the previous four games averaging 16.8 points per game including a career-high 21 against Saint Mary’s on Dec. 22. Recorded a team-high 16 points at Louisiana Tech last time out.
Courtney VanBrocklin - The freshman guard is fourth in scoring at 7.2 points while adding 4.1 rebounds, 2.1 assists and 1.3 steals per game.
Note: statistical rankings are for all games unless noted otherwise.
► Scouting Game 24 San Jose State on Friday (2/13/09)
Game 24 features the San Jose State Spartans (2-21, 1-9 WAC) who are coming off a pair of losses last weekend, 64-48 at Hawaii followed by a 76-47 home loss to Fresno State. The Spartans have lost eight straight league games since opening WAC play with a 54-50 home win over Hawaii, as a result they find themselves at ninth place in the league standings.
● The Head Coach - San Jose State is in its second season under the direction of head coach Pam DeCosta. She currently owns a 5-49 record with the Spartans and a 50-115 overall collegiate head coaching mark. DeCosta is 0-2 versus the Broncos.
● As a Team - Entering this weekend, San Jose State possesses the WAC’s ninth ranked scoring offense averaging 52.2 points per game while shooting 35.5 percent (9th WAC) from the floor, 29.6 percent (5th WAC) from the arc, and 61.3 percent (8th WAC) from the foul line. Defensively they allow 71.2 points per game (9th WAC) while opponents have shot 44.7 percent (9th WAC) from the court and 35.7 percent (9th WAC) from behind the 3-point line. They are ninth in rebounding, averaging 32.3 boards per game (9th WAC) while opponents grab 40 per game (6th WAC).
● Who to Watch - Junior guard Chasity Shavers, a former teammate of Boise State’s Jamia Malone at Tyler Junior College, leads the Spartans and is ranked 12th in the WAC for scoring at 10.8 points per game on the year. However, she did not play last weekend and her status is currently unknown. Following Shavers is Natalie White averaging 9.5 points and 3.5 rebounds, while Kelly Blair adds 7.4 points and 3.6 boards. White has had several solid performances against the Broncos over the years.
● What’s Back From Last Year - The Spartans returned two starters and three letterwinners from last year’s 3-28 squad that went 1-15 in the WAC to place ninth.
● Conference Preseason Polls - The league’s coaches picked San Jose State to place eighth in this year’s WAC race, while the media selected them ninth.
● A Quick Look at the Series...
Friday’s game will be the 17 edition of the SJSU-Boise State series which the Spartans hold a 10-6 all-time lead. However, the Broncos have won three straight over SJSU entering Friday’s contest. San Jose State leads 10-4 in WAC regular season games and 6-1 in games played at San Jose. Boise State leads 4-3 in contests played at Boise and 2-0 on neutral site floors. Boise State completed a season sweep for the first time last year winning 78-51 on the road and 74-65 at home, the road victory was their first ever win in San Jose for the Broncos.
● The Last Time The Spartans and Broncos Met...
BOISE, Idaho (2/28/08) - Ja'Lara Walker’s career night of 21 points and a school record 23 rebounds powered Boise State past a pesky San Jose State squad as the Broncos won their 12th game in a row 74-65 in Taco Bell Arena at Boise. Her 23 boards on the night broke a 33-year old school record for rebounds in a game dating back to February 27, 1975.
The game was ugly from the Broncos perspective as they struggled to find any rhythm in the game. The period proved to be a battle between Boise State’s Ja'Lara Walker who secured her double-double in the opening 20 minutes with 12 points and 11 boards, and San Jose State’s Natalie White who scored 19 of her game-high 27 points in the first period. The Broncos led 37-35 at the half.
Boise State never relinquished their advantage on the scoreboard in the final half and eventually stretched their lead to a game-high 16 points, 65-49, with 5:20 to play. However, like they had done all night the Spartans came fighting back cutting the lead to six points, 71-65, with 30 seconds left on the clock.
After San Jose State had cut the lead to six the Broncos’ Tasha Harris stepped to the line and hit two foul shots giving the Broncos a eight-point, 73-65, lead with 26 seconds to play. After the Spartans miss fired on a shot, sophomore Ja'Lara Walker hit one-of-two free throws with 14 seconds showing to give the blue and orange the final nine-point victory margin at 74-65.
Boise State was led by Walker’s 21 points and 23 rebounds followed by Jessica Thompson with 17 points and Harris with 13. San Jose State had only White in double-figure scoring with a career-high 27 points to go with eight rebounds.
► Scouting Game 25 Fresno State on Sunday (2/15/09)
Game 25 features the two teams that tied for last year’s regular season conference title Boise State and Fresno State. The Bulldogs have the WAC’s top ranked scoring offense averaging 71.6 points per game and the nation’s number one 3-point shooting team averaging a national-best 9.6 per game. Fresno State is coming into the weekend off a pair of road victories last week knocking off previously unbeaten (in league) Nevada 63-60 in Reno followed by a drubbing of San Jose State 76-47. They have now won five consecutive contests and will play at Idaho Friday night before meeting the Broncos on Sunday.
● The Head Coach - Adrian Wiggins is in his fourth year as head coach at Fresno State where he has accumulated a 88-42 overall record at the school, his career coaching mark is 128-59 in six years. Wiggins is currently 6-3 versus the Broncos.
● As a Team - Entering the weekend Fresno State leads the WAC in scoring averaging 71.6 points per game (1st WAC) while allowing 61 ppg (5th WAC). They have shot 40.9 percent (1st WAC) from the court, 34.9 percent (1st WAC) from the arc, and 68.1 percent (4th WAC) from the foul line. They also lead the nation in 3-pointers made per game averaging 9.6.
● Who to Watch - Sophomore Jaleesa Ross leads Fresno State averaging 12.7 points (10th WAC) and 4.4 rebounds per game. Hayley Munro is second in scoring at 11.6 points per game to go with 6.7 boards, while Bailey Amundsen follows with 10.5 points and 5.5 rebounds per game.
● 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 both picked Fresno State to place second in this year’s WAC race.
● A Quick Look at the Series...
Sunday’s game between Boise State and Fresno State will be the 22nd of the all-time series. The Bulldogs currently hold a 12-9 lead. The teams have split the regular season series the last two years with the home team winning each time. Last year Fresno State won 73-63 in Fresno, while Boise State countered with a 82-62 victory at Boise in the second contest. Earlier this season the Bulldogs won game one in Fresno 62-52 on Jan. 5.
● The Last Time The Bulldogs and Broncos Met...
FRESNO, Calif. (1/5/09) - Freshman Heather Pilcher scored a career-high 20 points in Boise State’s 62-52 loss at Fresno State. Unfortunately for the outmanned Broncos they could not get their shots to fall for them most of the night hitting below 30 percent during the contest. They fought hard throughout the game but ran out of gas down the stretch.
Fresno State started the game fast jumping out to a 9-0 lead three minutes into the contest before the Broncos settled down. Boise State slowly clawed its way back into the game pulling within one point, 26-25, by the halftime break.
The second half saw Boise State’s Pilcher explode for 15 of her game-high 20 points. The freshman from Lynwood, Calif., opened the period by giving the Broncos their first lead of the game when she converted two free throws a minute into the half. She followed with a 3-pointer that put Boise State up 29-26.
After Fresno State cut the Bronco lead to one point, Courtney VanBrocklin gave Boise State its largest lead of the night on a 3-pointer from the right side giving the visitors a four-point 36-32 advantage.
Unfortunately, the Broncos hit a dry spell shortly after that while watching Fresno State rattled off an 11-0 run to claim the momentum and a seven-point lead at 43-36 with 13 minutes remaining. They eventually stretched it out to 12 points at 53-41 with 8:41 left.
The Broncos staged another rally with an 8-0 run which started with two Pilcher jumpers good for four points. Jamia Malone added a field goal of her own, followed by Marisa Stotler nailing a pair of free throws to get the Broncos within four points at 53-49 with 5:34 to play. That was the closest Boise State would get down the stretch as the Bulldogs held on for the win.
Pilcher led Boise State with 20 points followed by Galassi with 11. Bailey Amundsen led Fresno State with 17 points while Hayley Munro added 12 points and 13 rebounds.
► Radio Broadcasts
Boise State Radio carries every regular season and postseason game on the air beginning with a 15 minute pregame show. Boise State assistant sports information director Doug Link is in his 11th year as the voice of Boise State Women’s Basketball providing the play-by-play for each broadcast. To tune into the action go to KBSU AM-730 in Boise, KEZJ AM-1450 in Twin Falls, and KBSK FM-89.9 in McCall.
► Games on the Internet
Fans can log on to BroncoSports.com and watch all home games. By becoming a Bronco Vision premium subscription member, Boise State fans will receive access to live games, past games, seasonal highlights, special features and interviews that can only be seen by paying the membership price of $9.95 per month or $69.95 per year. Bronco Vision members will need a high speed internet connection. Live stats can be found at BroncoSports.com to follow the game on game tracker. In addition, all games can be heard live on Boise State Radio’s website at http://radio.boisestate.edu/listenonline.html.