Boise State Ends Spartans' Cinderella Run with 76-67 Win in Semis
By W.G. Ramirez
Special to TheMW.com
LAS VEGAS - Why not us?
That's been the mantra for Boise State's women's basketball team this season, and after its 76-67 victory over San José State in Wednesday night's semifinal of the 2015 Mountain West Women's Championship, it's an awfully good question.
"We're Boise State, too," said Broncos shooting guard Brooke Pahukoa, who scored 19 points. "We try to focus on our team, what we can accomplish. We always knew we could.
"The football team is amazing. Our men's team is amazing. But we're amazing, too. We knew that. We just wanted to show people. 'Why Not Us' is kind of a thing. We try to focus on us, though we're very happy for all of them."
The fourth-seeded Broncos (20-10) will get a chance to answer their own question - "Why Not Us" - in Friday's championship game at Noon PT at the Thomas and Mack Center, against the winner of Wednesday's late game between No. 3 seed Fresno State (22-8) and second-seeded New Mexico (19-11).
For a while, it looked as if San José State's amazing run would continue, as the eighth-seeded Spartans (15-16) controlled the tempo for much of the game, while the lead changed hands six times.
With a little more than 11 minutes left in the game, the Broncos began whittling away at their six-point deficit, as Pahukoa hit two free throws and Shalen Shaw followed with a 3-pointer moments later, to pull Boise within one. After the Spartans went on a quick 6-2 spurt, pushing their lead to 54-49, Boise State took over.
Deanna Weaver hit three free throws, Shaw scored with a layup and Yaiza Rodriguez hit one of two free throws. The teams traded buckets and the Spartans' Rebecca Woodberry canned a pair of free throws before the Broncos scored the next five points.
"Boise State made plays down the stretch," San José State coach Jamie Craighead said. They hit shots when they needed to. We didn't have as much in the tank to answer."
With what might have been the biggest defensive play of the game, San José State's Ta'Rea Cunnigan drove across the key to the right side of bucket for a layup, but Boise State's Camille Redmon blocked her shot, putting an exclamation point on which team had momentum. Weaver's 3-pointer 22 seconds later capped a 15-4 run that put the Broncos up, 64-58, and essentially put the game out of reach.
"Our kids got going when Camille just murdered the ball on a blocked shot, just hit it," Boise State coach Gordy Presnell said. "Everyone kind of got fired up and loosened up a little bit. We were very, very fortunate to win. It was a team win."
Shaw led all scorers with 20 points, while Weaver finished with 11.
San José State, which recorded 32 3-pointers in three MW Tournament games this year, opened the game on a 9-2 run, and maintained a 12-9 lead after its first four field goals were from beyond the arc.
The Spartans' tally broke the record of 31 treys made, set last year by Fresno State. San José State also set MW Tournament records for field-goal attempts (217) and 3-point field-goal attempts (77).
San José State was led by Woodberry's 17 points and seven rebounds, while Cunnigan scored 15 points.
Willie Ramirez is a Las Vegas-based freelance reporter and Southern Nevada correspondent for The Associated Press. Follow him on Twitter: @AP_WG