Boise State (7-4) travels to Pocatello for a big instate battle with rival Idaho State (8-3) Saturday afternoon at 2:00 p.m. (Mountain) in Reed Gym. The 60th encounter between the Broncos and Bengals should be a Gem State classic as it features the top two teams in the state, two 2007 NCAA Tournament participants, and two teams expected to compete for their respective league titles.
This series has been dominated by Boise State who currently holds a 41-18 advantage all-time. However, the rivalry has heated up over the last 11 years with the Broncos holding a slim 6-5 advantage during that time span. Boise State has won three straight over Idaho State defeating the Bengals 86-78 in Boise last season on Dec. 30, 2006, preceded by a thrilling 91-89 double-overtime win in ISU’s Reed Gym on Nov. 18, 2005 the last time the two met in Pocatello. The 2005 encounter was the season opener and marked Gordy Presnell’s debut as Boise State’s head coach. To date, Boise State is 16-10 all-time versus the Bengals in Pocatello.
This game features the top scoring offenses in the Western Athletic and Big Sky Conferences. Boise State enters the game leading the WAC averaging 72.5 points a game and ranked 45th nationally, while Idaho State leads the Big Sky at 73.5 ppg and is ranked 39th nationally. In addition, Idaho State leads the nation in free throw percentage hitting 85.4 percent on the year.
Lately For The Broncos...
Boise State is coming off a dominating 87-60 dismantling of Big Sky member Sacramento State in Boise on Dec. 15. Boise State led by as many as 44 points during the game. Tasha Harris and Jessica Thompson kept their streaks of scoring in double figures in every game this season alive. Harris had a team high 19 points followed by Thompson’s 16. Every Bronco scored in the game with all but one recording six or more points. The Broncos have now completed three consecutive games at home in Taco Bell Arena without trailing. (Full recaps and boxscores can be found later in this press release).
Prior to the win over the Hornets, the Broncos suffered a heartbreaking 62-61 loss at Arizona (Dec. 12). The Broncos dominated most of the game holding a lead for 35 of the 40 minutes before falling on a buzzer beater to the Wildcats (5-4). Tasha Harris and Jackie Lee lead the Broncos with 15 points apiece followed by 14 and a team high six rebounds from Jessica Thompson.
Looking at the Boise State Broncos (7-4) . . .
The Broncos are 7-4 overall entering Saturday’s game in Pocatello. With eight new faces on the team and some early injuries, Boise State struggled to get going this season. They opened with two solid home wins over Loyola Marymount (71-67) and Montana (70-64), then stumbled on the road losing their first three "away" games at Santa Clara (73-51), Saint Mary’s (78-63), and Portland (84-80). Their lone "road" victory at the time was a neutral site victory over Cal State Bakersfield (83-53) at Saint Mary’s on Nov. 23.
The players began to gel and figure out their roles during the Portland game. Since then the team has begun to roll going 4-1. The Broncos swept their next three opponents with dominating wins at home over Oral Roberts (73-64) and Washington (88-66), followed by a come from behind win at Washington State (71-64). They closed their pre-Christmas schedule with the heartbreaking loss at Arizona (62-61) and the commanding 87-60 win at home over Sac State.
Boise State is currently undefeated at home this season going 5-0 to date. The Broncos’ five wins has moved their record to 26-6 at home in Taco Bell Arena since Coach Presnell took over for the 2005-06 campaign (three years).
Boise State is the defending Western Athletic Conference champions after going 12-4 in league play last season. They set a school record for overall wins after finishing 24-9 during the 2006-07 campaign highlighted by the WAC’s regular season and tournament titles, and a NCAA Tournament first round appearance where they lost 76-67 to George Washington. This year’s Boise State team was picked to repeat their conference championship in 2008 by both the league’s coaches and media.
Who To Watch For The Broncos . . .
Junior point guard Tasha Harris has led the Broncos in scoring during seven of the first 11 games scoring double figure points in every contest to date. She enters this week averaging a WAC second best 17.5 points per game (NCAA 61st) to go with 3.8 rebounds, 3.3 assists (WAC 3rd), and 1.7 steals (WAC t-14th). Harris is a 2007 WAC Preseason All-WAC Second Team honoree. Jessica Thompson is the WAC’s Preseason Player of the Year. She is second on the team and fifth in the WAC for scoring at 15.5 points per game, in addition the junior guard averages 4.5 boards, 2.1 assists, and 2.6 steals (WAC 2nd). The two guard combo scores 33 points per game, or nearly half of Boise State’s total of 72 per game. Jackie Lee is third on the team in scoring averaging at 7.0 points per game. Senior center Amanda Stewart leads the Broncos on the glass at 5.3 per game followed by Jackie Lee’s 4.6 rpg and Thompson’s 4.5 rpg.
Offensively As A Team . . .
Boise State is an up-tempo team who looks to push the ball up the floor. The Broncos feature the WAC’s top ranked scoring offense averaging 72.5 points per game (NCAA 45th) on 37.9 percent (WAC 6th) shooting from the floor, 32.9 percent (WAC 3rd) from three-point range, and 70.4 percent (WAC 2nd) from the foul line. They lead the league for three-pointers per game (NCAA 19th) at 7.3 per contest.
Defensively As A Team . . .
Defensively, Boise State allows 66.8 points per game to rank fifth in the league. Meanwhile, opponents have shot 40.1 percent (WAC 3rd) from the court and 29.5 percent (WAC 2nd) from long range. Boise State is a +2.2 (WAC 3rd) in rebound margin, 42.2 to 40. The Broncos are forcing 19.8 turnovers per game (WAC 3rd) while giving it away 16.5 times per game (WAC 2nd), they are third the WAC in turnover margin at +3.4.
Scouting Idaho State (8-3) . . .
The Bengals enter the game at 8-3 overall. They have won three straight and seven of the last eight games. They defeated Southern Utah 82-57 in Pocatello their last time out on Dec. 20. They have marque road wins over UCLA (76-74) in Reno, Nev. and at Oregon State (79-73). They are 1-1 versus the WAC with a home win over Utah State (69-60) and a road loss at Nevada (74-66).
Idaho State is in its sixth season under the direction of Jon Newlee where he has accumulated a 81-75 record. The Bengals returned four starters and eight letterwinners from last year’s 17-14 team that went place second in the Big Sky with a 11-5 mark in Big Sky. They won the conference tournament to advance to the first round of the NCAA Tournament where they lost 96-58 to Stanford. The 2007-08 Bengals were picked to place second in the conference race by the Big Sky’s coaches and media.
Statistically For The Bengals . . .
As a Team: Idaho State features the 39th ranked scoring offense averages 73.5 points per game while giving up 66.5. They have been shooting 41 percent from the floor, 37.6 percent from 3-point range and a national leading 85.4 percent from the free throw line. Opponents have shot 40 percent from the court and 30.2 percent from the arc. The Bengals are averaging 38 boards per game.
Who to Watch: Senior center Natalie Doma is ranked fourth nationally and leads the Big Sky for scoring and rebounding averaging 22.6 and 12.1 respectively. Senior guard Andrea Lightfoot is second on the team in scoring at 16.5 points per game (BSC 4th). She is also ranked fourth nationally for 3-point percentage (53.2) and 36th for 3-pointers made per game (2.5).