ExtraMile Arena was on its feet as the Broncos pushed through the final seconds of their battle against the New Mexico Lobos. The clock read 0:11 when center Mallory McGwire’s shot from deep landed flawlessly, giving the Broncos an 83-82 lead in overtime on Wednesday, Dec. 4.
“I just came up and was like, ‘Wait a second, I’m open,’ shot it, and I thought it was short. I didn’t think it was going in, but it did and that was great,” McGwire said. “I don’t practice that [shot]often. I was just kind of calm, and I just took the shot. I’m happy it went in.”
Boise State turned the ball over on a bad pass in-bound and New Mexico called a timeout, no-doubt to organize a buzzer-beating shot.
With the ball in the hands of the Lobos’ top scorer of the night, Jaedyn De La Cerda, New Mexico’s last-ditch effort from the arc was blocked by A’Shanti Coleman. McGwire’s heroic 3-point shot proved to be the winning one, and the Broncos clinched their fourth consecutive conference opener.
New Mexico, who was picked by the Preseason Mountain West Poll to finish second in the conference after the Broncos, entered the game 6-1. The Broncos were 4-4 after tough losses to Washington State, Louisville and Texas Christian in the last two weeks, and a win was necessary for the Broncos to avoid dipping under .500 for the first time in two years.
“We’ve got some seniors here who have been successful for four years, and their culture — and it’s their culture — is a never-say-die attitude,” said head coach Gordy Presnell. “What I’m really proud of is that we’re really fatigued. We’ve been across the United States three weekends in a row against Power Five opponents, for the most part. So, it was good that they showed the will and the grit to get through this.”
The Broncos went on a 9-0 run to open the game, thanks to back-to-back deep shots from Braydey Hodgins right in front of the Lobos’ bench, followed by another three from Riley Lupfer on the other side of the arc.
With her opening shot, Lupfer became the all-time Boise State leader in 3-pointers over both the men’s and women’s programs. It was her 276th 3-pointer, and she would go on to rack up five more that night.
Lupfer currently sits at No. 2 in the country for 3-point field goals made this season with 36, trailing University of Oklahoma’s Taylor Robertson who has 43.
By halftime, the Broncos led 44-42 and had shot 18-for-36 to the Lobos’ 17-for-37. New Mexico’s 6-0 run near the end of the third quarter widened the gap, and the Broncos entered the fourth trailing 59-64.
A 9-0 run for Boise State in the fourth had them leading 68-67, but three missed shots from the Broncos allowed New Mexico to rack up eight points. Rachel Bowers and McGwire chipped away, each contributing a layup. With 1:41 remaining, Ellie Woerner drained a game-changing 3-pointer to tie the score at 75-75.
“Ellie’s just a grinder; she just does anything and everything she can for the team,” McGwire said. “That shot was huge, obviously, but she also helped us a lot on the defensive end, so she’s just a workhorse. She’s a very competitive person, and you can see it when she plays.”
New Mexico answered with a jumper from De La Cerda, who ended the night with a team-leading 19 points. Hodgins missed her next layup, but McGwire snagged the rebound for a second-chance shot to tie it 77-77 with 17 seconds remaining.
Woerner stepped up yet again, breaking up an in-bound pass under New Mexico’s basket, forcing a New Mexico turnover and a McGwire steal. The clock ran down, and the Broncos buckled down to face overtime.
“We just had to get a stop,” Woerner said. “We were not about to lose on that possession so we really locked in and that was a huge possession for us to get a stop.”
The Lobos opened overtime on a 5-0 run as Boise State missed their first nine shots, until a three-pointer from Lupfer brought the Broncos within two at 80-82 with 56 seconds remaining. The only other overtime points for the Broncos came from McGwire’s game-winning shot. McGwire finished the night with her second double-double (21 points, 17 rebounds) of the season, with 14 points coming in the last 15 minutes of play.
“I think we were down five with a minute and a half left, and that’s the fight that our team has,” Woerner said. “We’re never going to give up until the buzzer goes off. We fought our way back and Mal hit a huge shot, it was awesome.”
Now 1-0 in the Mountain West, Boise State heads to Colorado State University to take on the Rams on Sunday, Dec. 8 at 1 p.m. Colorado State (5-4) dropped their own conference opener 49-59 to San Diego State.
After just two conference games, the Broncos will return to non-conference play at ExtraMile Arena on Dec. 11 against BYU. Boise State will face three more non-conference teams (Eastern Washington, Western Oregon and Pepperdine) before permanently returning to Mountain West play on Jan. 1.