Depth and communication boost women’s basketball to season opener victory

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To the surprise of few, Boise State women’s basketball was predicted to top the conference for the third-straight year by the Preseason Mountain West Poll. In a convincing start to their campaign, the Broncos put their first official win of the 2019-20 season in the books.

The Broncos took down Lewis-Clark State College 88-34 on Tuesday, Nov. 5 for their season opener. Though they maintained the lead for the entire game, Boise State had to make some adjustments and trust the depth in their bench to get the job done.

The dominant 54-point win was not all cut and dried. Within the first four minutes after tipoff, the Broncos went 1-8 in the field until Jayde Christopher ended the drought with a 3-pointer. From there, the Broncos wrapped up the quarter 6-17.

The second quarter started in a similar fashion, with a 2-9 run from the Broncos. Jade Loville sparked a momentum change with seven points, and a 9-0 Boise State run in the last four minutes held LCSC to just five points.

The starting five had only 15 combined points at the half, with none from Braydey Hodgins and just two from Riley Lupfer. Hodgins, Lupfer and Mallory McGwire were also approaching foul trouble with two apiece. But the Broncos were supplemented by their prepared bench, who were able to lead the way to the win column.

Emerging from the bench alongside Loville was Ellie Woerner, and their combined first-half consistency produced 18 points. The pair’s presence prevailed through the night, as Loville totalled 14 points on 5-9 shooting and Woerner put up 15 points on 6-7 shooting.

“It’s crazy how much my confidence has boosted up,” Loville said. “I got to see a lot and learn a lot and I got my freshman jitters out [last year], so this year is just play basketball the way I know how.”

Despite their struggles to find the net, the Broncos’ defense kept them in the game by holding LCSC to 4-24 in the first half. The Warriors relied on their 6-6 free throw performance to head into the half with 15 points to the Broncos’ 33.

“For some reason, I don’t know if its first time out, but we came out pretty tight first quarter and the basket kind of shrunk on us a little bit,” said head coach Gordy Presnell. “But I was really proud of us defensively.”

Boise State shook off its first-game nerves after halftime, opening with an 11-0 run and drastically improving their field goal percentage and overall court presence. After shooting 38% in the first half, the Broncos hit 76% in the remainder. As their accuracy gained momentum, the Broncos held the Warriors to six points in the third quarter while putting up 30 of their own.

In her first game as a Bronco, McGwire went 5-8 from the field. The 6’5” center also came out to hit a three in the third quarter, displaying her range of abilities which Bronco fans have been anxious to see.

“She’s really gifted,” Presnell said. “She’s not an athlete in terms of explosion and that kind of thing, but she’s really athletic in terms of balancing hands and kind of knowing where to be at the right time.”

Boise State’s efforts from deep went from 4-14 to 5-8 between halves, with Woerner going 3-3 in the team’s 22 attempts on the night.

“Something that I know I can bring every game is energy and communication out there on the floor and so that’s my focus when I go out there,” Woerner said. “Those are things I can control and kind of keep the energy. When one of the starters goes out, I don’t want any momentum to go down. So kind of keeping the momentum at the same level is my goal when I go in there.”

Christopher, Coleman, McGwire, Woerner and Loville all capped off the night in double-figures, with Woerner garnering the team high (15). The Broncos forced 29 turnovers and had 14 steals, a testament to their reliable defense. Boise State returns to ExtraMile Arena on Friday, Nov. 8 at 7 p.m. to host Portland State for the first round of the Preseason WNIT. If they win, the Broncos will host the winner of Missouri State-Texas A&M Corpus Christi Sunday, Nov. 10.

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