Boise State's women's basketball team hosts Idaho this afternoon in Western Athletic Conference action. Coach Gordy Presnell's Broncos (3-4 in the WAC, 11-8 overall) are enjoying their best season since joining the league and have had some bright moments, but have yet to hit their stride. Idaho is 3-3 and 7-10 on the season. Boise State can rejoin the Vandals tied for 4th in the league with a victory this afternoon--tipoff is at 2 in Taco Bell Arena.
Much like the Broncos, Idaho is 5-1 at home but 2-5 on the road. Boise State is 7-1 in Taco Bell Arena but just 3-7 away from home. The Vandal women have beaten New Mexico State, Nevada and Utah State and lost to Louisiana Tech, Fresno State and San Jose State. Idaho is scoring at a 65.1 points per game clip while allowing 64.8 points a game. The Vandals are hitting just 40.4 percent of their shots from the floor and they'll be going up against the #20 defense in the nation--the Broncos allow an average of just 35.5% shooting. Their strength is their ball control, averaging just 14.8 turnovers per game.
Jessica Thompson continues to lead the Broncos with 14.7 points per game. Jackie Lee is right behind her at 13.6 and is the Broncos' leading rebounder grabbing 6.9 rebounds per contest. Boise State leads the WAC in rebounding with 46.7 rebounds per game in conference play. Nadia Begay has a 12.5 average, but has been hampered by an injury. Michelle Hessing (7.4 avg.) has been playing well in WAC play. Jackie Thompson (2.2) and Benita Buggs (4.4) are the other Bronco starters. Jenna Galassi and Rebecca Kepilino are also strong off the bench for Coach Presnell.
Emily Faurholt (5-11, Sr. Center) played for Bronco Coach Presnell her freshman season at Seattle Pacific before transferring to Idaho. She now paces the Idaho offense with a 19.1 average. Junior guard Leilani Mitchell (5-5) is right behind Faurholt at 18.5 points per contest. Both have topped the 30-point mark in games this season. Both are excellent 3-point shooters; Faurholt is 28 of 63 (44.4%) while Mitchell is 34-96 (35.4%). Mitchell is the team leader in assists (106), steals (67) and turnovers (67). Both take the ball to the hoop, draw fouls, and are good from the charity stripe. Faurholt is 73-88 (83%) while Mitchell is 84-107 (78.5%). In conference games, Idaho leads the WAC with a 76.7% average as a team.
Faurholt, a two-time All-Big West selection before Idaho joined the WAC this season, averaged 23.2 points (2nd in the nation) and 5.9 rebounds per game last year and was a preseason Naismith and Wooden Award finalist. Her sophomore season, she led the nation in scoring at 25.4 points per game, was an Associated Press and Kodak/WBCA All-America Honorable Mention and was featured in several national publications including USA Today and SLAM magazine. Faurholt became the 9th fastest player in women's basketball history to score 1,000 career points when she accomplished the feat last season. She is the 14th player in the history of the UI women's basketball program to score 1,000 career points, holds six records and is on 12 other career lists in the Vandal record book. She once scored 39 points against Cal State-Fullerton in 2004.
Mitchell ended last season ranked in the top 50 in the nation in four statistical categories, including second for steals, ninth for free-throw percentage (168-192, .875), 18th for assists, and 45th for scoring average. Mitchell two is a two-time All-Conference honoree. She set a school record for steals in a season (118) and ranks in the top 10 in 14 other statistical categories at Idaho. Mitchell tied an NCAA single-game record for free-throw percentage (min. 18 made) with a 20-for-20 performance versus UC Santa Barbara (1/8/05) and later set a Big West Conference Tournament record with an 11-steal performance.
Leading rebounder Jessica Summers (6-1, So.) contributes 7.6 points a game and averages 7.8 rebounds at center for Idaho. Karly Felton (5-11, wing) is averaging 6.4, while Jordyn Bowen (6-0, Fr., post) is averaging 4.7 points and 3.9 rebounds for the Vandals. Freshman guard MacKenzie Flynn (4.0 average) and sophomore wing Emily Halladay (3.6) will also see significant action this afternoon.
With the upset loss to Nevada Thursday night, Boise State needs this victory to stay in the upper half of the WAC standings. Come out and support Coach Presnell's Lady Broncos!