LAS CRUCES, N.M. (3/12/08) - Number two seeded Boise State opened the defense of their 2007 WAC Tournament championship with a 14-point, 61-47, victory over Utah State in the last quarterfinal game Wednesday night at the Pan American Center in Las Cruces, N.M. The Broncos pulled away from the Aggies midway through the second half to claim their seventh-consecutive tournament opening victory to extended their win streak to a school record tying 15 games. Tasha Harris and Jessica Thompson combined for 36 points to lead Boise State past Utah State and into Friday’s semifinal game against the host and number three seed New Mexico State Aggies (22-8) at 2:30 p.m. (Mountain).
Utah State opened the game with an old fashion three-point play by forward Ndoumbe Diop 50 seconds into the contest. That proved to be the only lead the Aggies would have in the final 39 minutes as the Broncos responded with five straight points to take a 5-3 lead with 17:36 to go and never trailed again. A minute later, Utah State’s top player Taylor Richards picked up her second personal foul and was forced to the bench until late in the half.
The opening 20-minutes was tightly contested until Boise State ran off a 13-2 run to take a 14-point, 28-14, advantage with 9:17 to play in the period. However, the Broncos seemed to take their foot off the gas as they were held to seven points in the final nine minutes. Utah State responded by slowly chipping away at the Boise State lead eventually pulling to within seven points, 33-26, by intermission.
The second half opened with the Aggies rolling off six-consecutive points to close the gap to one point at 33-32 with 16:52 to play. The Broncos refused to surrender the lead as they ran off their own six-point run, sparked by four Jackie Lee points followed by two from Harris, to make the score 39-32 at the 11:42 mark of the period.
Utah State cut the Boise State advantage to two points, 39-37, before the Broncos began to pull away with 10 minutes showing on the clock. Boise State stretched the lead to double digits several times in the closing minutes before settling for the final 14-point, 61-47, victory margin when the buzzer sounded.
On the night Boise State struggled with their shot for the fourth game in a row but still managed to win the game. The Broncos ended the contest shooting 35 percent from the floor, 21 percent (4-19) from 3-point range, and a decent 75 percent (15-20) from the foul line. Utah State countered with 33 percent shooting from the court, 18 percent (3-17) from the arc, and 83 percent (10-12) from the stripe. Boise State out rebounded Utah State 40-to-37 resulting in a 24-to-10 advantage in second chance points. The blue and orange also did a solid defensive job forcing 19 Aggie turnovers for a 18-to-seven edge in points off turnovers, the Broncos gave it away 13 times.
Harris led the Broncos for the 15th time this season with a team-high 19 points to go with eight rebounds and two steals. Jessica Thompson had a big night with some clutch shots finishing with 17 points, four boards, two assists, and a career-high six steals. Jackie Lee finished with 12 points, seven rebounds, one block, and three steals. Lee, a senior forward, is now within 19 points of her 1,000th career point. The trio were the only three Broncos in double-figure points on the evening.
Jamelah Brown was the only Aggie in double-digit points with 10 to go with her five boards, two assists, one block, and two steals. Caldwell, Idaho native Jenny Gross finished her career with nine points and a team-high six rebounds, followed by seven points from Diop and Jade Hatchett.
The win gives Boise State a three-game season sweep of Utah State while improving to 23-6 on the year. They are within one win of tying last year’s school record of 24 victories. The Broncos’ 15-game win streak ties the 1976-77 squad’s record for consecutive wins. Boise State has never lost its first game at the WAC Tournament going a perfect 7-0 in openers dating back to the 2002 tournament in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
The Broncos now face New Mexico State in the second semifinal game on Friday. Tip for the contest is scheduled for 2:30 p.m. at the Pan American Center. Boise State and NMSU split the season series with the home team winning each time. The Aggies are the last team to defeat the Broncos handing Boise State a 14-point 79-65 loss at the Pan American Center on Jan. 10. The Broncos gained a measure of revenge when they out lasted New Mexico State 83-82 in overtime at Taco Bell Arena in Boise on Feb. 9.
Newspaper Box Score
Utah State vs Boise State
3/12/08 8:30 PM at Las Cruces, N.M. (Pan American Center)
BOISE STATE 61, UTAH STATE 47
UTAH STATE (9-20)
Brown, Jamelah 4-14 1-1 10; Gross, Jenny 4-10 1-2 9; Hatchett, Jade 2-8 2-2
7; Diop, Ndoumbe 3-6 1-1 7; Richards, Taylor 1-5 2-2 4; Snelgro, Danyelle
1-4 1-2 4; Pope, Shawnta 1-2 0-0 2; White, Amber 0-0 2-2 2; Coddington,
Alice 1-2 0-0 2; Pares, Ana 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 17-51 10-12 47.
BOISE STATE (23-6)
Harris, Tasha 5-13 7-8 19; Thompson, Jessica 7-14 2-2 17; Lee, Jackie 4-7
3-4 12; Walker, Ja'Lara 2-4 2-2 6; Galassi, Jenna 1-9 1-3 3; Rima, Melissa
1-2 0-0 2; Malone, Jamia 1-7 0-0 2; Stewart, Amanda 0-1 0-1 0; Moeller,
Sierra 0-3 0-0 0; Moore, Brittany 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 21-60 15-20 61.
Utah State.................... 26 21 - 47
Boise State................... 33 28 - 61
3-point goals--Utah State 3-17 (Snelgro, Danyelle 1-2; Hatchett, Jade 1-4;
Brown, Jamelah 1-5; Richards, Taylor 0-4; Coddington, Alice 0-1; Gross,
Jenny 0-1), Boise State 4-19 (Harris, Tasha 2-4; Thompson,Jessica 1-4;
Malone, Jamia 0-6; Galassi, Jenna 0-1). Fouled out--Utah
State-None, Boise State-None. Rebounds--Utah State 37 (Gross, Jenny 6;
Snelgro, Danyelle 6), Boise State 40 (Harris, Tasha 8). Assists--Utah State
11 (Richards, Taylor 5), Boise State 3 (Thompson, Jessica 2). Total
fouls--Utah State 17, Boise State 17. Technical fouls--Utah State-None,
Boise State-None. A-2181