What’s Happening This Week For The Broncos . . .
Boise State (21-8, WAC 12-4) heads to the 2007 Western Athletic Conference Tournament in Las Cruces, New Mexico as the regular season co-champions and number one seed into the tournament. The Broncos will face the winner of the Idaho-San Jose State play-in game, which is Tuesday night, in the WAC quarterfinals on Wednesday at 2:30 p.m. (mountain) in the newly renovated Pan American Center on the New Mexico State University campus. Boise State went 3-1 against those two schools this season, sweeping the series with Idaho while splitting with San Jose State.
Lately For The Broncos - The Final Road To A Championship . . .
After leading the league standings from the start, the Broncos were forced to rally from two games down in the final week to tie Louisiana Tech for first place in the league standings to close the season. Boise State entered Thursday’s home game with Fresno State at 10-4 knowing that Louisiana Tech had finished their season the night before with a 74-56 win over New Mexico State giving the Lady Techsters a final mark of 12-4. The Broncos standing at 10-4 and on a three-game losing streak had to win their final two home games to earn a share of the conference title.
First up was Fresno State Thursday night at Taco Bell Arena in Boise. The Broncos had lost two weeks earlier at Fresno State by a 69-61 score. Like in the first game, Boise State fell behind early forcing them to play catchup throughout the game. However, this time the Broncos managed to rally for the win coming from 10 down at the intermission. Powered by 18 points from Tasha Harris the Broncos gained their first lead since early in the game at 62-61 with 2:08 to play. Boise State held that lead stretching it to six with 12 seconds remaining on four consecutive free throws by Jackie Lee in the final 22 seconds of the game. The victory pulled the Broncos to within one win of Louisiana Tech in the standings heading into the season finale at home against Hawaii on Saturday.
The Final step for a championship was Saturday night as the Broncos hosted the Hawaii Rainbow Wahine on Senior Day in Taco Bell Arena in front of the second largest crowd of the season as 1,910 fans showed up knowing the magnitude of what was at steak for the Boise State women. Hawaii led twice during the game, following the opening basket for a 2-0 lead and again at 11-10 with 13:57 left in the first period. Seven seconds later Boise State seized the lead for good at 13-11 on a Nadia Begay three-pointer. The rest of the game saw the Broncos answer one Hawaii rally attempt after another. Boise State slowly pulled out to double-figure leads in the second half, the largest was 15 points (56-41) with 7:08 showing on the clock. Michelle Hessing led the Bronco stand with 13 second half points as Boise State ended the game settling for the final 10-point victory margin of 66-56 to finish their first ever season sweep of Hawaii and claim a share of the WAC’s regular season title.
About The Broncos In 2006-07 . . .
Boise State entered league play with the best overall non-conference mark in the WAC at 9-4. They followed that up with a 12-4 league mark to close the regular season at 21-8. During the year they claimed their first 20-win season and league championship since the 1993-94 team went 23-6 and were co-champions of the Big Sky Conference. It is only the fourth time in 37 years that the Broncos have won 20 or more games and only the third time that they have won or shared a league regular season title. Boise State finished the regular season with the top ranked scoring offense and defense in the conference.
Who To Watch For The Broncos . . .
Boise State has two 2007 All-WAC honorees led by first team selection Jessica Thompson averaging 13.8 points per game (6th in WAC) to go with 3.7 rebounds, 1.9 assists, and 2.3 steals (4th in WAC) per game. In 26 games she has recorded 19 games in double-figure points, seven with 20 plus points including a season high 25 points at Oregon Nov. 24. Michelle Hessing, a senior center out of Boise was a All-WAC Second Team honoree. She averages 11.6 points (14th in WAC) and 5.1 rebounds per game through the season. Hessing has also recorded 16 double-digit point games with a career high 25 against New Mexico State on Feb. 1. Sophomore point guard Tasha Harris is the third Bronco averaging double-figure scoring at 10.6 points per game to go with 3.6 rebounds, and a team high 2.8 assists per game (t-10th in WAC). On the glass, sophomore Rebecca Kepilino leads the team with 5.9 rebounds (11th in WAC) per game, followed by Hessing at 5.1 rpg and Jackie Lee at 4.7 per game.
Two Seniors, Begay and J.T., To Play WAC Tournament In Home State . . .
Two of Boise State’s seniors are returning to their home state of New Mexico to play in their final Western Athletic Conference Tournament in Las Cruces. Nadia Begay is from Kirtland in the northwestern corner of the state, several members of her family are expected in the attendance this week. Meanwhile, Jackie Thompson, a military kid, went to high school in Alamogordo an hour away from Las Cruces. Her family no lomger lives in the state residing now in Atlanta, Georgia.
Offensively As A Team . . .
Boise State is an up-tempo team who looks to push the ball up the floor. The Broncos have recorded 70 or more points 13 times this season going 12-1 in those contests. They have been held below 60 points only three times this season. On the year, the Broncos finished the regular season with the WAC’s top ranked scoring offense averaging 69.3 points per game while shooting 40.2 percent (2nd in WAC) from the floor, 30 percent (4th in WAC) from beyond the arc, and 69.4 percent (4th in WAC) from the foul line. In league games they are averaging 70.4 points per game (1st in WAC). On the boards Boise State averages 39.7 rebounds per game ranking fourth in the WAC. They are a plus 8.4 (1st in WAC) in scoring margin, plus 2.1 (4th in WAC) in rebounding margin, and plus 3.6 (2nd in WAC) in turnover margin.
Defensively As A Team . . .
Defensively, Boise State features the top ranked scoring defense in the WAC allowing 60.9 points per game on the year. They are second in league competition allowing 59.6 points per game. On the year, they have held their opponents to 39.2 percent (5th in WAC) shooting from the hardwood and 30 percent (6th in WAC) from long range. The Broncos possess the third ranked rebounding defense in the league holding opponents to 37.7 rebounds per game. Boise State forces 19.1 turnovers per game (3rd in WAC) in comparison to their giving it away a league low 15.5 times per game. Boise State is ranked first in the WAC and 51st nationally (2/25/07 last national rankings released) for fewest turnovers per game. They also lead the WAC in assist/turnover ratio at 0.84.
What’s Back From 2005-06 . . .
Coach Presnell is in his second year at Boise State. The Broncos made an immediate improvement under the new coach’s leadership in his first season in 2005-06 going 15-15 overall, 6-10 in league action to place sixth, and advanced to the conference tournament’s semifinals. It was the first non-losing season for the Broncos in six seasons and the highest conference finish since the program joined the league for the 2001-02 campaign.
Boise State returned every impact player from last year’s squad including four starters, nine letterwinners, and a redshirt sophomore. Among the returners are the top five scorers and rebounders from a squad that scored the most points in eight years with 1,984 points (66.1 points per game) and set a school record for team rebounds in a season with 1,252. The Broncos return 90.5 percent of their points, 86.7 percent of the rebounds, 83.7 percent of the assists, and their entire scoring punch from outside the three-point arc. Boise State has led the league in three-point percentage in three of their first five seasons of membership including the last two years (2004-05 and 2005-06).
Boise State and Conference Tournaments . . .
If you count this year’s WAC Tournament, Boise State has participated in 19 league tournaments in the last 22 years. The Broncos have advanced to three tournament title games going 0-3 in those contests. Their all-time record in conference tournaments is 10-18. However, the Broncos have fared better in tournament games since joining the WAC in 2001 going 5-5 in the last five championship events.
Prior to the 2001 Big West Tournament, qualification was required to advance to the conference tournament. As a result, Boise State’s first league tournament was in 1988 in the old Mountain West Athletic Conference when they lost to the host school Montana Lady Grizz 73-54. Following the 1988 MWAC appearance, the Broncos qualified for 11 of the next 12 conference tournaments missing only the 1991 Big Sky Tournament placing fifth in the league that year. Since 2001, all teams in the league (Big West and WAC) have participated in the postseason competition.
Boise State and The WAC Tournament . . .
In the previous five tournaments the Broncos have gone .500 (5-5). They have won their first game each year then lost in the second. The first four years saw Boise State run into top-seeded Louisiana Tech in the quarterfinals losing to the eventual champion each time. Last year the Broncos defeated Hawaii 72-63 in the quarterfinals then lost to New Mexico State 60-59 in the semis.
Boise State and WAC Tournament Seeding. . .
The Broncos are the number one seed into this year’s WAC Tournament in Las Cruces, New Mexico. It is their highest seed since joining the league six years ago. In the first four years they had to compete in play-in games as the number eight or nine seed. Last year Boise State bypassed the play-in game receiving the number six seed advancing directly to the quarterfinals for the first time.
Note: Boise State will play the winner of Tuesday’s Play-in Game between #8 San Jose State and #9 Idaho.
Potential Opponent For GAME 30: #8 San Jose State (3-21, WAC 2-8)
About The Bronco-Spartan Series . . .
If Boise State and San Jose State meet in the WAC quarterfinals it will be the 14th meeting all-time in the series that the Spartans lead 10-3. They split the two game regular season series with the home team winning each time. Boise State defeated San Jose State 82-59 in Boise on Feb. 10, then the Spartans stunned the Broncos 68-60 two weeks later in California. The Events Center at San Jose State is now the only place in the conference that the Broncos have never won since joining the league going 0-6 to date. They have never met in the WAC Tournament.
A Bronco Connection To San Jose State . . .
Boise State alum Abby Vaughan is in her first season as an assistant coach with San Jose State. Vaughan played shooting guard for the Broncos from 1999 to 2003 and finished as the all-time record holder for three-pointers made in a career with 260. She graduated from Boise State in 2003.
What Has Happened Lately For San Jose State . . .
After the Spartans defeated the Broncos two weeks ago 68-60 in San Jose, SJSU has lost two straight since. They lost at Hawaii 64-53 on Feb. 24 and at Idaho, 69-66, this past Saturday (March 3). They enter the WAC Tournament at the number eight seed with a 4-12 conference mark and a 4-26 overall record.
Who To Watch For The Spartans . . .
San Jose State has two active players that average double-figure points on the year. Natalie White leads at 11.6 points (15th in WAC) per game to go with 3.2 rebounds, followed by 2007 WAC all-freshman team honoree Brittany Powell at 11.0 points and a team high 6.3 rebounds (8th in WAC) per game on the year.
San Jose State As A Team . . .
Offensively, the Spartans average a league low 57.8 points per game while shooting 35.8 percent (9th in WAC) from the court, 24.4 percent (9th in WAC) from the three-point arc, and 66.2 percent (6th in WAC) from the foul line. Defensively, San Jose State allows 69.3 points per game (8th in WAC), while teams have shot 38.5 percent (4th in WAC) from the floor and 27.2 percent (1st in WAC) from behind the arc. They are a -11.5 in scoring margin (8th in WAC), -5.3 in rebound margin (7th in WAC), and -2.13 in turnover margin (8th in WAC).
More About San Jose State . . .
San Jose State returned one starter and seven letterwinners from last year’s 13-15 squad that went 8-8 in league play to finish tied for fourth in the conference standings. Currently, Derrick Allen is serving as the San Jose State interim head coach taking over the program Dec. 2. This year’s Spartan team was picked to place sixth in the 2006-07 conference race by both the league’s coaches and media.
Note: Boise State will play the winner of Tuesday’s Play-in Game between #8 San Jose State and #9 Idaho.
Potential Opponent For GAME 30: #9 Idaho (6-21, WAC 3-13)
About The Boise State-Idaho Series . . .
The Broncos sweep both games this year by 30 points each defeating Idaho in Boise 85-55 and in Moscow 70-40. Boise State now holds a 33-26 advantage in one of the two oldest series Bronco history. If they meet in the WAC quarterfinals it will be the 60th meeting all-time in a series that dates back to March 5, 1971. These two schools have been in four different conferences together dating back to the early 1980’s when they were charter members of the old Mountain West Athletic Conference (MWAC) from 1982-88. The MWAC merged with the Big Sky in 1988 to form a men’s and women’s conference. The two schools then left for the Big West Conference in 1996 followed by Boise State’s move to the WAC in 2001 and Idaho’s arrival in the WAC last year (2005).
What’s Happened lately For The Vandals . . .
Idaho has been decimated by injury this year struggling to a 6-21 overall record and a 3-13 conference mark to finish ninth in the league race. Last week they split their final two home games losing to Hawaii 64-43 on Thursday before rebounding to win the season finale 66-64 over San Jose State on Saturday.
Who To Watch For Idaho . . .
The Vandals are led by the 2007 WAC Freshman of the Year Katie Madison. She leads the WAC in scoring by nearly four points averaging 19.4 per game. She is also the top rebounder for the Vandals at 8.9 per game to rank fourth in the league. Sara Dennehy is second in scoring at 10.8 per game along with 6.2 rebounds, followed by Liz Witte at 10.3 points per game.
Idaho As A Team . . .
Offensively, the Vandals average 62.1 points per game (6th in WAC) and allow 74.1 (9th in WAC). In their 16 league games they scored 62.9 points per game (t-5th in WAC) while allowing 73.5 ppg (9th in WAC). On the year, Idaho has shot 37 percent (8th in WAC) from the floor, 28.5 percent (6th in WAC) from three-point range, and hit 70.9 percent (2nd in WAC) from the foul line. On the glass, they are ranked eighth in rebounding offense grabbing 35.8 rebounds per game and are a -7.1 in rebound margin (9th in WAC). They average 19 turnovers per game (6th in WAC) and are a -1.96 in turnover margin (7th in WAC).
More About Idaho . . .
Idaho returned two starters and two letterwinners from last year’s 10-19 squad that went 5-11 in WAC play to place tied for seventh in the conference. Mike Divilbiss is in his sixth season at Idaho where he has gone 78-93. His collegiate head coaching record is 388-215 all-time in 20 seasons. This year’s Vandals team was forecast to place eighth by both the WAC’s coaches and media.