Broncos win WAC Tournament championship with 49-46 victory over host New Mexico State, earn automatic bid to NCAA Tournament...

LAS CRUCES, New Mexico - (3/10/07) - The Boise State women’s basketball team won their first conference tournament title in history with a 49-46 come from behind win over host New Mexico State at the Pan American Center in Las Cruces, New Mexico. The win in front of 5,905 partisan Aggie fans earns the Broncos an automatic bid into the NCAA Tournament next weekend as the Western Athletic Conference’s representative. The victory also completes a sweep of the WAC’s regular season and tournament titles for Boise State as they set a new school record for most wins in a season improving to 24-8 overall.

The game started slow as neither team experience much success from the floor as they traded small leads in the first 15 minutes. With the score tied at 12-12 and 6:46 showing on the clock, New Mexico State ran off a 7-0 run to claim the momentum and a 19-12 advantage with three minutes remaining in the opening 20 minutes. The Aggies eventually stretched their lead to nine points on a Sherell Neal layup with 45 seconds left. Just before half, Boise State’s Amanda Stewart put back a missed Nadia Begay shot to cut the deficit to seven points, 25-18, at the break.

Boise State struggled hitting their shots in the first half converting just 17.2 percent (5-of-29) from the floor and 18.2 percent (2-of-11) from three-point range. New Mexico State shot 29 percent (9-of-31) from the court and 37.5 percent (3-of-8) from behind the arc.

Down seven at the half, the Broncos opened the final period on a 4-0 run to pull within three points, 25-22, a minute and a half into the period. Boise State began their final push at the Aggies down nine, 33-24, with 14:53 remaining. Finally with 8:30 to play, Tasha Harris converted on a conventional three-point play to pull the Broncos to within one at 39-38.

Following a Niki Holt three-pointer for New Mexico State seven seconds later, Boise State seized control of the game with a 8-2 run powered by five more Harris points to claim the lead for good at 46-44 with 5:01 to go. The final minutes were a hard fought defensive battle as the Broncos withstood the Aggies’ attempt to rally. A short jumper by Stewart made the score 48-44 with 4:16 left in the game. New Mexico State’s Neal then hit a pair of free throws with 1:18 showing on the clock to cut the Boise State advantage to two points at 48-46.

That set up the final seconds when WAC Tournament MVP Jessica Thompson hit one free throw with eight seconds remaining to give the Broncos a three-point cushion at 49-46. In last year’s WAC semifinal meeting between these two teams Thompson missed two free throws in the final seconds that would have given the Broncos a win, instead they lost 60-59. However, the Aggies had one last attempt to tie the score but a Cecilia Russell-Nava last second heave from the high right wing over the out stretched hands of Jess Thompson fell wide to the right as time expired giving the Broncos the hard fought championship game victory.

Sophomore Tasha Harris was the lone Bronco in double-figure scoring with 13 points to go with three rebounds, one assist, and three steals. Junior center Amanda Stewart and sophomore Jenna Galassi came in off the bench to record eight points apiece giving the Broncos 16 key points. Stewart also had seven rebounds, five of them offensive boards, and two blocks. Jessica Thompson finished with seven points, three rebounds, three assists, and two steals. On the glass, sophomore Rebecca Kepilino had 12 rebounds followed by eight from Jackie Thompson.

New Mexico State was led by Sherell Neal with a double-double on 16 points and 12 rebounds to go with two assists, two blocks, and three steals. Hannah Spanich recorded seven points, while Anikia Jawara contributed six points and 11 rebounds.

Boise State’s Jessica Thompson was named the WAC Tournament MVP while teammate Tasha Harris was named to the all-tournament team. They are the first Broncos to ever be named to the WAC’s all-tournament team in six years. Boise State is now 24-8 overall. They will find out who they will face and where they will play in the first round of the NCAA Tournament at 6:00 p.m. (mountain) Monday night when the NCAA releases their women’s brackets. Tickets for the NCAA Tournament will go on sale at the Boise State Athletic Ticket Office at 10:00 a.m. Tuesday morning.

Newspaper Box Score
Boise State vs New Mexico State
3/10/07 1:05 PM at Las Cruces, NM (Pan American Center)

BOISE STATE (24-8, 12-4 WAC)
Harris, Tasha 5-13 2-2 13; Stewart, Amanda 3-6 2-2 8; Galassi, Jenna 3-7 2-2
8; Thompson, Jessica 2-11 3-6 7; Begay, Nadia 1-5 2-2 5; Hessing, Michelle
2-3 1-2 5; Lee, Jackie 1-6 0-0 3; Thompson, Jackie 0-1 0-0 0; Kepilino,
Rebecca 0-9 0-0 0; Walker, Ja'Lara 0-0 0-0 0; Reyes, Bridgette 0-0 0-0 0.
Totals 17-61 12-16 49.

NEW MEXICO STATE (13-18, 6-10 WAC)
Neal, Sherell 5-14 6-8 16; Spanich, Hannah 2-6 2-2 7; Jawara, Anikia 2-10
2-3 6; Bribiescas, Monique 1-9 2-2 5; Holt, Niki 2-3 0-0 5; Walton, Tyshae
2-6 0-0 4; Foster, Jazmyn 1-3 0-0 3; Joy, Janel 0-0 0-3 0; Henry, Kayla 0-0
0-0 0; Russell-Nava, Cecili 0-6 0-0 0. Totals 15-57 12-18 46.

Boise State...................   18   31  -   49
New Mexico State..............   25   21  -   46

3-point goals--Boise State 3-17 (Begay, Nadia 1-5; Lee, Jackie 1-4; Harris,
Tasha 1-4; Thompson, Jessica 0-3; Galassi, Jenna 0-1), New Mexico State 4-15
(Spanich, Hannah 1-2; Holt, Niki 1-1; Bribiescas, Monique 1-3; Foster,
Jazmyn 1-1; Russell-Nava, Cecili 0-6; Neal, Sherell 0-2). Fouled out--Boise
State-Hessing, Michelle, New Mexico State-None. Rebounds--Boise State 49
(Kepilino, Rebecca 12), New Mexico State 44 (Neal, Sherell 12).
Assists--Boise State 6 (Thompson, Jessica 3), New Mexico State 11
(Russell-Nava, Cecili 4). Total fouls--Boise State 16, New Mexico State 17.
Technical fouls--Boise State-None, New Mexico State-None. A-5905


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