Boise State Captures First-Ever Mountain West Women's Tourney Title with 66-60 Win over UNM
By W.G. Ramirez
Associated Press and Special to TheMW.com
LAS VEGAS - If Yaiza Rodriguez's parents want to watch her play for Boise State, they have to wake up at odd hours to do so. Good thing for them the sophomore guard from Spain had a big game Friday.
Rodriguez scored 18 points and fourth-seeded Boise State beat second-seeded New Mexico 66-60 to win the Mountain West title and earn an automatic NCAA berth.
"It's really hard to be here ... I was thinking about my parents, that they cannot be here watching me," said Rodriguez, who fell to the hardwood with mixed emotions immediately after the victory. "They need to wake up at 5 o'clock in the morning and watch my game online. (And) my friends, I want to call them, but they're sleeping right now, so I don't think I can do it."
Brooke Pahukoa added 16 points and five rebounds, and Miquelle Askew had 12 points for Boise State (22-10).
"I thought Yaiza was terrific," Boise State Gordy Presnell said. "She kept calling the same pick-and-roll over and over and over. Brooke has been all in. It's been a great run. They're Boise State believers, both of them, and we're excited about the win."
Antiesha Brown led New Mexico (20-12) with a season-high 23 points. She scored 19 of the Lobos' 38 second-half points.
Boise State, which became just the second No. 4 seed to win the Mountain West title, opened the second half with a 16-9 run to take a 45-31 lead.
Brown cut the Broncos' lead to single digits by scoring five straight for the Lobos, converting a three-point play and later hitting two free throws with 6:59 left.
Boise State built its lead back to 12, with 5:17 left, but New Mexico — which was 16 of 52 (30.8 percent) from the field — used a 7-0 spurt to cut it to five with 3:20 remaining. The Broncos held off New Mexico's late charge by hitting 7 of 9 free throws, including three of four by Rodriguez.
"Yaiza has done a nice job," Presnell said. "She's played so much basketball. The whole tournament atmosphere is a big deal to her. She's played in three world championships and two European Championships for Spain. She's really fired up when there's any kind of tournament. If we were in a Thanksgiving tournament, she'd be fired up. She's done a really nice job for us."
Boise State: Utah in 2008-09 was the school to sweep the football and men's and women's basketball tournament championships. If Boise State men advance to championship game, it would mark the 13th time that a men's and women's team from the same school advanced to the title games.
New Mexico: After a 1-7 start, the Lobos closed the season on a 19-5 run, including victories in five of their last six games.
ALL-TOURNAMENT TEAM: Pahukoa (MVP) and Rodriguez of Boise State; Brown of New Mexico; Alex Sheedy of Fresno State; and Rebecca Woodberry of San José State.
Willie Ramirez is a Las Vegas-based freelance reporter and Southern Nevada correspondent for The Associated Press. Follow him on Twitter: @AP_WG