Boise State closes home schedule this week with San Jose State on Thursday followed by Hawai?i on Saturday...

GOBRONCOSDOTCOM
GOBRONCOSDOTCOM

GOBRONCOSDOTCOM

Week 17 is a busy one for the Broncos compared to the last two weeks with two games on the slate. Boise State closes their home schedule with two contests beginning with San Jose State on Thursday and Hawai’i on Saturday. Both games will tip at 7:05 p.m. (Mountain) in Taco Bell Arena on Boise State’s campus.

This week Boise State is pushing for a "ORANGE OUT" at all home athletic events encouraging fans to show their support for the Broncos by wearing orange to the games and the gymnastics meet on Friday. Thursday night is "Trading Card Night" with the first 500 kids through the doors getting a set of Boise State basketball cards. Saturday night versus Hawai’i is "Senior Night," the Broncos will honor their two seniors with a short pregame ceremony. Tickets to the events are $5.00 for adults and $3.00 for kids high school age and younger.

The Broncos are currently tied with Fresno State for first place in the Western Athletic Conference standings with a 11-2 league record. With three games remaining each game takes on added importance as Boise State tries to defend their championship from a year ago. Fresno State has three games remaining against the current third and fourth place teams; they play New Mexico State (9-3 WAC) the third place team twice, back-to-back, before closing the season at Nevada (9-4) the current fourth place team March 8. In addition, Nevada must travel to New Mexico State this Thursday with the loser falling further behind the top two teams.

However, the Broncos need to take care of their own business to have a chance at the title. Two of the final three opponents for Boise State played the Broncos tight in the first meeting of the season. Boise State won at San Jose State 78-51 on Jan. 31 to claim their first ever win at SJSU; they held off a second half Hawai’i rally for a four-point (77-73) victory in Honolulu Jan. 24; and out gunned Utah State in Boise 85-77 on Jan. 17. Note, Utah State knocked off Nevada and Fresno State in Logan last week. The Broncos have to travel to USU next Thursday for Boise State’s regular season finale before heading to the WAC Tournament in Las Cruces, N.M. the week of March 11-15.

Looking at the Boise State Broncos . . .

Boise State features the league’s top and the nation’s 18th ranked scoring offense averaging 74.6 points per game. They are an up tempo team who is at it’s best pushing the ball up the floor in a wide open attack. During their current 11-game win streak they have been held below 70 points once and have scored 80 or more six times. Their current win streak is tied for the 11th longest active streak in the NCAA.

Entering the week Boise State has gone 19-6 overall and 11-2 in Western Athletic Conference action. The Broncos are currently tied for first place in the league standings with Fresno State. Boise State has won 14 consecutive home games dating back to last year, that record is ranked as the seventh longest active home win streak in the NCAA.

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. Their two wins over league rival Nevada, who played in the WNIT last year, this season gives the Broncos’ a perfect 6-0 record against 2007 postseason teams (3-0 vs. NCAA Tournament and 3-0 vs. WNIT).

The Broncos opened conference action going 0-2 on the road. Boise State started off with two disappointing conference loses 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. However, Boise State has not lost since going 11-0 and averaging 78.3 points per game with a victory margin of 13.6 ppg during the streak.

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 . . .

Where do you begin, Boise State has become a solid team during league play with six of the nine active players having recorded at least one double figure point game and four Broncos averaging over 10 points per game. Boise State has arguably the best backcourt combination in the WAC in juniors Tasha Harris and Jessica Thompson. The duo were both Preseason All-WAC honorees and have each reached the 1,000 career points milestone this season.

Harris starts at the point-guard position where she has scored double-figure points in 24-of-25 games while leading the Broncos in scoring 13 times this season and 30 times during her career. She enters this week as the WAC’s leading scorer at 16.6 points per game (NCAA 81st) to go with 4.2 rebounds, 3.6 assists (WAC 2nd), and 2.0 steals (WAC 7th).

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 10 times this year and 32 times throughout her career. She is ranked sixth in the WAC for scoring at 14.6 points per game. She has recorded double-digit points in 22-of-25 games during the 2007-08 campaign.

The Broncos play for the most part a three guard offense with senior Jackie Lee playing the wing (three-guard) where she has turned it on in league action averaging of 10.5 points (WAC 16th) and 5.0 rebounds (WAC t-17th) per game. She is approaching the 1,000 career point milestone needing 59 entering this week in order to join teammates Thompson and Harris in the 1,000 point club as the 15th member.

Meanwhile, junior forward Jenna Galassi has been a major factor in WAC competition as well averaging 11.0 points (WAC 14th) and 4.3 boards during conference play. Junior reserve guard Jamia Malone has become the best 3-point shooter during league competition hitting 38 percent (19-50) of her attempts to rank seventh in the WAC. She is averaging 7.0 points per game in conference games.

Sophomore Ja'Lara Walker moved into a starting role at center following Amanda Stewart’s injury at Hawai’i on Jan. 24th. Since then, the Merced, Calif. native has recorded two double-doubles and reset her career highs for points and rebounds twice, currently 18 and 11 respectively. In addition, she is shooting an impressive 78.4 percent (29-37) from the floor while averaging 9.4 points and 6.9 rebounds during her seven starts.

Offensively As A Team . . .

The Broncos feature the WAC’s top ranked scoring offense and the nation’s 18th on the year averaging 74.6 points per game on 40.7 percent (WAC 5th) shooting from the floor, 33.6 percent (WAC 3rd) from 3-point range, and a league best 72.1 percent from the foul line. In league games the Broncos are averaging 76.1 points (WAC 1st) per game and have scored 80 plus points six times. They are ranked 19th nationally for three-pointers per game at 7.0 per contest.

Defensively As A Team . . .

Defensively, Boise State allows 66.8 points per game to rank sixth in the league. Meanwhile, opponents have shot 39.2 percent (WAC 4th) from the court and 31.5 percent (WAC 4th) from long range. Boise State is a +2.0 (WAC 5th) in rebound margin, 40.8 to 38.8 rpg. The Broncos are forcing 19.6 turnovers per game (WAC 3rd) while giving it away 16.7 times per game (WAC 2nd), they are third in the WAC for turnover margin at +2.9.

Lately For The Broncos . . .

Recently, Boise State had one game last week defeating the University of Idaho 74-40 in Boise Thursday night (Feb. 21). Jessica Thompson led four players in double-figure points with 13. Sophomore Ja'Lara Walker recorded her second straight double-double on 10 points and 10 boards. Tasha Harris had 12 points while Jamia Malone contributed 10 of her own.

Prior to that, Boise State claimed a huge 80-69 road win at Nevada on Valentine’s Day. The victory was the first in Reno by a WAC team this year and in the process snapped the Wolf Pack’s 10-game home win streak. Tasha Harris led the Broncos over Nevada with a team-high 20 points, while sophomore Ja'Lara Walker recorded her first career double-double with career highs for points and rebounds with 18 and 11 respectively.

 

Preview of Game 26:  San Jose State at Boise State
Thursday, Feb. 28 in Taco Bell Arena

The Series . . .

Thursday’s encounter will be the 16th meeting all-time in the series with the Spartans holding a 10-5 lead. The two teams met three times last season with Boise State winning two. The Broncos won the first meeting 82-59 in Boise, then San Jose State won the second 68-60 in San Jose, followed by a Bronco win in the WAC Tournament quarterfinals in Las Cruces, N.M. by the score of 81-64. This year Boise State claimed their first win ever at San Jose State with a dominating 78-51 victory on Jan. 31.

The Last Time They Met . . .

The last time these two met was in San Jose on Jan. 31 when the Broncos ran away with their first ever victory at SJSU by the score of 78-51. Boise State never trailed in the game pulling out to a halftime lead of 43-30 and eventually stretching their advantage to a game-high 36-point margin with 7:14 to play in the contest. Four Broncos scored double-digit points led by Jenna Galassi’s team-high 16, followed by Tasha Harris and Jessica Thompson with 13 each, and Ja'Lara Walker with 10. Christine Martin finished with a team-high 19 points for San Jose State followed by Natalie White with 12.

A Quick Look At San Jose State . . .

The Spartans enter the week at 2-24 overall and 1-12 in conference. They are currently tied for eighth place in the WAC standings. They enter Thursday’s contest on a eight-game losing streak including a pair of losses last week to New Mexico State 81-65 in San Jose followed by a 61-47 road loss at Hawai’i.

San Jose State is in its first season under the direction of Pam DeCosta. Coach DeCosta came to SJSU via Lynn University where she went 45-66 in four seasons. The Spartans returned all five starters and eight letterwinners from last year’s 5-27 team that went 3-13 in conference to place tied for eighth. The 2007-08 San Jose State team was picked to place eighth in the WAC by the league’s coaches while the media tabbed them ninth.

Statistically For The Spartans . . .

As a Team: San Jose State features the WAC’s eighth ranked scoring offense averaging 58.0 points per game while giving up 70.8 (WAC 9th). They have been shooting 37.7 percent (WAC 8th) from the floor, 31.7 percent from 3-point range (WAC 5th), and 55.9 percent (WAC 9th) from the free-throw line. Opponents have shot 44.3 percent (WAC 9th) from the court and 35.6 percent (WAC 9th) from the arc. The Spartans are averaging 35.4 boards per game (WAC 6th).

Who to Watch: San Jose State is led by Natalie White who averages 15.7 points per game to rank fourth in the WAC for scoring. The junior guard also averages a team high 5.6 rebounds (WAC 11th). No one else averages double figure scoring for San Jose State. Brittany Powell is second in scoring at 7.7 points per game followed by Myosha Barnes with 7.4 ppg.

 

Preview of Game 27:  Hawai'i at Boise State
Saturday, March 28 in Taco Bell Arena
Senior Night

The Series . . .

Saturday’s meeting will be the 16th all-time in the series between the Broncos and Rainbow Wahine. Hawai’i currently holds a 9-6 lead in the series. However, the Broncos swept last year’s series winning in Honolulu (Jan. 20) for the first time by the score of 62-53, followed by a 66-56 win in the regular season finale in Boise (March 3). This season the first meeting went to the Broncos 77-73 in Honolulu (Jan. 24). Boise State has won four straight over Hawai’i.

The Last Time They Met . . .

The Broncos and Rainbow Wahine met earlier this season in Honolulu on Jan. 24 when Boise State won a close 77-73 game. The Broncos took a 16-point halftime lead then held off a slow meticulous Wahine rally that cut the lead to three in the final minute. Boise State’s Tasha Harris hit three-of-four free throws in the final 27 seconds followed by Ja'Lara Walker making one-of-two with one second remaining to give the Broncos their final four-point victory margin. Tasha Harris scored a team-high 24 points while Jenna Galassi added a career-high 21. Tanya Smith led Hawai’i with a double-double on 25 points and 17 rebounds.

A Quick Look At Hawai’i . . .

The Rainbow Wahine enter the week at 10-15 overall and 4-8 in WAC play good for seventh place. They split a pair of home games last week losing to Fresno State 75-62 before rebounding to down San Jose State 61-47. They will play at Idaho Thursday night before traveling to Boise for their Saturday encounter with the Broncos.

The Wahine are in their fourth season under the direction of Jim Bolla who is 54-54 at the school. Hawai’i returned two starters and eight letterwinners from last season’s squad that went 9-7 in league to place tied for fourth and 15-14 overall. This year’s Hawai’i team was picked to place sixth by both the conference’s coaches and media.

Statistically For The Wahine . . .

As a Team: Hawai’i enters the week with the WAC’s sixth ranked scoring offense at 64.8 points per game. Defensively, they are seventh in the league allowing 67.3 points per outing. The Wahine have been shooting a second best in the league at 41.7 percent from the floor on the year, 33.2 percent (WAC 4th) from 3-point range, and 62.1 percent (WAC 8th) from the charity stripe. Hawai’i has held teams to 37.9 percent shooting (WAC 2nd) from the floor and 30.3 percent (WAC 2nd) from beyond the arc.

Who to Watch: Hawai’i has two players averaging double-digit points on the year in the senior tandem of Tanya Smith and Saundra Cariaga. Smith is leading the team in scoring at 12.6 points per game (WAC 9th) to go with a WAC high 11.9 rebounds per game which ranks her second nationally on the boards. Cariaga is averaging 10.9 points (WAC 13th) and 4.5 rebounds per game.