Its Broncos versus Vandals in season finale.
► What’s Happening This Weekend
Boise State University (16-13, 9-6 WAC) closes the regular season by hosting arch-rival University of Idaho (12-14, 9-6 WAC) in a key Western Athletic Conference match-up between teams tied for third place in the league standings and seeding implications into next week’s conference tournament at Reno, Nev. This game will be the first contest of a Saturday night doubleheader with the Bronco men in Taco Bell Arena. The two women’s teams are scheduled to tip at approximately 6:05 p.m. (Mountain), the men’s game versus the University of Nevada is estimated to start around 8:15 p.m. There will be no television broadcast of either game locally.
Following last weekend’s road split the Broncos find themselves in a three-way tie for third place with Idaho and Nevada. For the first time since the Vandals joined the WAC for the 2005-06 season this game has significant ramifications for both teams, the winner will likely finish in a tie for third place in the league standings while the loser could fall as far as sixth. Also at stake is the all important seeding into next week’s conference tournament which will feature six to seven teams with legitimate chances of winning the title in Reno. The WAC’s regular season race has never been this close since the Broncos joined the league eight years ago, which makes this year’s tournament extremely interesting with any team capable of beating any other on any given day.
► About The Broncos
The Broncos enter the week at 16-13 overall and 9-6 in WAC play, good for fourth place in the conference standings. Boise State is now battling for seeding into next week’s WAC Tournament in Reno, Nev., a win would move the Broncos into at least a tie for third place, a loss could drop them as low as sixth place. Boise State enters the week coming off three weekends where they split games going 3-3. Most recently last weekend they finished a two-game road trip defeating San Jose State 56-45 before losing a disappointing game at Hawaii 68-67, a contest they led by 17 points at halftime. Prior to that they went 2-2 at home defeating San Jose State 58-53 (Feb. 13), lost to Fresno State 70-58 (Feb. 15), lost to Utah State 65-61 (Feb. 20), then rallied to down Nevada 75-74 (Feb. 22).
● Streak Comes To A End...
League Titles - The Broncos entered the season as two-time defending WAC champions. They battled adversity all year long and surprisingly still harbored hopes of a three-peat until the second to last weekend of the campaign. The loss at Hawai’i on March 1 ended all possibilities of repeating as champions. The best they can do now is finish third with a win over Idaho on Saturday.
● 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 79-45 while at Boise State and 475-172 in 22 seasons as a collegiate head coach. In competition versus Idaho he has gone 6-1.
● As a Team...
Offensively - The Broncos have struggled scoring this season averaging 61.8 points per game (3rd WAC) while shooting 36.6 percent (8th WAC) from the floor, 26.8 percent (9th WAC) from the 3-point arc, and 67.1 percent (5th WAC) from the free-throw line.
Defensively - Boise State is allowing 62.7 points per game (6th WAC) while opponents have shot 37.9 percent (3rd WAC) from the floor and 27.9 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 (5th WAC), 40.7 (3rd WAC) to 42 (9th 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 9.6 points and a second-best 6.0 rebounds per game, 12th in the WAC on the glass. She has not played since injury during San Jose State game on Feb. 13.
Heather Pilcher - The freshman reserve guard is second on the team in scoring at 8.8 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 8.7 points per game. She missed the Idaho and Fresno State games because of injury but returned against Hawaii in a reserve role. She returned to the starting lineup at Nevada on Jan. 30. She has led team in scoring four times during league play.
Courtney VanBrocklin - The freshman reserve guard is fourth in scoring at 7.6 points per game while adding 4.0 rebounds, 2.0 assists and 1.1 steals per game. She has led the team in scoring four times and has eight games in double-figures.
Note: statistical rankings are for all games unless noted otherwise.
► Scouting Game 30 Idaho on Saturday (3/7/09)
Game 30 features the second meeting of the year between the Gem State’s two arch-rivals in Boise State and Idaho. The 63rd edition of the rivalry is scheduled to tip at approximately 6:05 p.m. (Mountain) in Taco Bell Arena at Boise. Both teams are tied with Nevada for third place at 9-6, Utah State is 8-6, in league entering the final games of the season on Saturday. This game has major implications for both teams in relation to seeding into next week’s league tournament with either team finishing as high as third or as low as sixth in the conference standings. In the first encounter of 2009, the Broncos won a close 60-56 contest in Moscow on Jan. 3 to extend Boise State’s win streak versus the Vandals to five straight.
● The Vandals - Idaho is the surprise team of the season in the WAC moving from the bottom third of the league the three previous years to a title contender this season. They enter Saturday’s finale at 12-14 overall and 9-6 in league play good for a third place tie. The Vandals lost Wednesday night at home to Nevada 57-39 to forge a three-way tie at third.
● The Head Coach - Jon Newlee is in his first year with the Vandals after moving from Idaho State to Idaho last summer. While at ISU he recorded a 93-62 record. This year he is 12-14 overall at Idaho. His all-time record versus Boise State is 2-6 as a head coach.
● As a Team - Entering Saturday’s game Idaho possesses the WAC’s sixth ranked scoring offense averaging 59 points per game while shooting 38.1 percent (6th WAC) from the floor, 29.6 percent (4th WAC) from the arc, and 68.4 percent (2nd WAC) from the foul line. Defensively they allow 59.6 points per game (2nd WAC) while opponents have shot 38 percent (4th WAC) from the court and 31.2 percent (4th WAC) from behind the 3-point line. They are sixth in rebounding, averaging 37.2 boards per game while opponents grab 39 per game (4th WAC).
● Who to Watch - Junior guard Derisa Taleni leads the Vandals on the year and ranks fifth in the WAC in scoring averaging 13.9 points per game while grabbing 6.2 rebounds each time out. Sophomore Yinka Olorunnife averages a double-double on the season on 13.1 points (9th WAC) and 10.9 rebounds (1st WAC) per game.
● What’s Back From Last Year - The Vandals returned four starters and four letterwinners from last year’s 4-25 squad that went 3-13 in the WAC to place eighth.
● Conference Preseason Polls - The league’s coaches picked Idaho to place last, ninth, in this year’s WAC race, while the media selected them eighth.
● A Quick Look at the Series...
Saturday’s game will be the 63rd edition of the Idaho-Boise State series which the Broncos own a 36-26 all-time advantage. The Broncos have won five straight over Idaho including a 60-56 victory in Moscow on Jan. 3rd of this year. Boise State leads 6-1 in WAC regular season games and 20-9 in games played at Boise. Idaho leads 16-13 in contests played at Moscow, while the series is tied 2-2 on neutral site floors. Boise State completed a season sweep last year winning 65-60 on the road and 74-40 at home. Idaho dominated the 1980’s going 14-3, however, since 1990 the series record stands at Boise State 25 wins, Idaho 12. These two schools have been conference rivals in four different leagues through the years beginning with the old Mountain West Athletic Conference (MWAC) 1982-88, then the Big Sky Conference 1988-1996, Big West Conference 1996-2001, and now the Western Athletic Conference (WAC) 2005-present.
● The Last Time The Vandals and Broncos Met...
Moscow, Idaho (1/3/09) - Freshman Heather Pilcher scored 16 points to lead Boise State to a 60-56 road victory over arch-rival Idaho in the Western Athletic Conference opener for both schools. The Broncos opened defense of their 2008 WAC title by stretching their league win streak to a school record 15 games. Boise State never trailed during the game and led by as many as 14 points as they claimed their fifth-consecutive win over the Vandals.
Boise State opened the game quick hitting back-to-back 3-pointers and eventually opened a nine point, 20-11, advantage 10 minutes into the half. However Idaho battled back with an 13-5 run to pull the Vandals to within one at 25-24 with 3:02 remaining until half. Boise State responded by scoring the last seven points of the period to take a 32-24 advantage into the break.
The second period started with two quick Janie Bos field goals followed by a Jenna Galassi basket to spot the Broncos a game-high 14-point lead less than two minutes into the half. After Idaho cut its deficit to seven at 45-38 with 12:18 to play, the Boise State advantage would fluctuate between nine and four points the rest of the way.
The Vandals appeared to be building some momentum late when Yinka Olorunnife scored five-straight points pulling Idaho to within four points at 51-47 with 4:53 left.
However, Boise State’s Pilcher hit a crucial mid-range jumper to snap the short Vandal run. The freshman from Lynwood, Calif., followed with a crucial series of plays for the visitors down the stretch. Following a pair Idaho free throws and a missed BSU jumper, the freshman intercepted a pass and raced down court for a fast break layup giving Boise State a 55-49 lead with 2:23 showing on the clock. Boise State finished the game holding off Idaho from the charity stripe with Janie Bos and Jamia Malone hitting five of eight free throws in the final minute to clinch the victory.
Three Broncos were in double-figure points led by Pilcher’s 16, Malone was second with 11 points six rebounds, and five assists, while Bos added 10 points and seven boards. Shaena Kuehu led two Vandals in double-digit points with a team-best 14 to go with eight boards, followed by Olorunnife with 13 points and a team-high nine rebounds.