Broncos defeat Fresno State 68-59 to advance to Saturday's WAC title game against New Mexico State ....

LAS CRUCES, New Mexico - (3/9/2007) - The Broncos seized control in the second half to defeat the Fresno State Bulldogs in the semifinals of the Western Athletic Conference Tournament Friday afternoon at the Pan American Center. All-WAC first team honoree Jessica Thompson scored 22 of her team high 24 points in the second half as the Broncos rallied to the nine-point victory over the Bulldogs. The win advances the number one seed Broncos into Saturday afternoon’s WAC Tournament championship game against New Mexico State at 1:00 p.m. in the Pan American Center in Las Cruces, New Mexico.

After trailing the entire first half and by two, 30-28, at the break, Boise State seized control of the game on a 12-3 run to open the second period. Jess Thompson led the early surge by scoring eight of the 12 points during the run as Boise State claimed a 40-33 lead with 15:34 to play. Boise State forced the play inside in the final stanza as they out scored the Bulldogs 20-to-four in the paint.

Fresno State rallied eventually tying the game at 47-47 on a pair of Chantella Perera free throws with 9:39 showing on the clock. After a quick layup by Boise State’s Tasha Harris made the score 49-47 Broncos, Perera nailed four more free throws to give the Bulldogs their final lead of the game at 51-49 with 6:43 remaining.

Down two, Boise State responded with six Jessica Thompson points to reclaim the lead at 55-51 with 5:40 to play. Once again Fresno State rallied to pull even at 57-57 with 3:58 left on the clock. However, the final four minutes was all Broncos as they closed the game on a 11-2 run powered by seven-of-eight free throw shooting down the stretch.

On the day, Boise State shot 42.9 percent (27-of-63) from the floor, went 0-for-7 from three-point range, and 73.7 percent (14-to-19) from the foul line. Meanwhile, Fresno State hit 29.8 percent (17-of-57) from the court, 20 percent (3-of-15) from long range, and 81.5 percent (22-of-27) from the free throw line. Boise State’s bench out scored Fresno State’s 22-to-five as the Broncos’ depth came through late in the game.

All ten Broncos that played in the game scored led by Jessica Thompson’s 24 points. The sophomore also recorded six rebounds, one assist, and one steal. Tasha Harris was second in scoring with 11 points to go with a season high nine rebounds and two steals. Amanda Stewart, a junior from Marisng, Idaho, collected seven points, followed by Rebecca Kepilino with six points and six rebounds. Senior Michelle Hessing was held to four points in the game, however, that was enough to become the 12th Bronco all-time to hit 1,000 career points as she needed only four entering the game with 996. Jackie Lee and Harris tied for the team high on the glass with nine boards each, Lee also had five points.

Fresno State was led in scoring by Tierre Wilson with 18 points, 13 in the first half, to go with eight rebounds, one assist, and four steals. Chantella Perera recorded 14 points and five rebounds, followed by 10 points by Erica Henry.

The win improves the Broncos to 23-8 on the year tying the 1993-94 team’s school recorded for most wins in a season. The team set a new school record for games played in season at 31 on Friday, the previous recorded was 30. Fresno State falls to 18-13 overall and is eliminated from the tournament as the Broncos complete the tournament sweep over the Bulldogs following Thursday night’s men’s game won by Boise State 78-73.

Boise State now advances into Saturday’s WAC Tournament championship game for the first time since joining the league in 2001. They will face #7 New Mexico State (13-17) who defeated Nevada 73-62 in the second semifinal Friday afternoon. It will be Boise State’s fourth conference title game appearance all-time going 0-3 in the previous three games, the last was the 1998 Big West championship where they lost 86-69 to UC Santa Barbara. The championship game will be soon live by CSTV (channel 610 on Direct T.V.) at 1:00 p.m. (mountain) Saturday.

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