Boise State's women's basketball team is beginning to make some noise. Last year, the Broncos upset national power Louisiana Tech. This season, they scored their first win over Hawai'i. They have won 12 games on the season, already the most in five years. New coach Gordy Presnell has the team playing exciting basketball, scoring, rebounding and playing solid defense. The Broncos are coming off a game where they held scoring sensation Emily Faurholt of Idaho five points below her season average and Lellani Mitchell 9.5 points below hers.
By virtue of their win against Idaho, Boise State leapfrogged the Vandals into fourth place in the Western Athletic Conference. Directly above the Broncos in the standings is San Jose State and lo and behold, the Spartans visit Taco Bell Arena Wednesday night for a 7 p.m. battle in Boise. On January 21st, Boise State lost to the Spartans 63-57 in a game they'd probably like to have back. Jessica Thompson netted 25 points in California, but it wasn't enough.
Boise State will need to display the same type of aggressive, suffocating defense Wednesday night that they showed against Idaho. In particular, the Broncos need to stop the tandem of Amber Jackson (17.3 points and 9.4 rebounds per game) and Lamisha Augustine (16.8 and 7.9, respectively) to win this key WAC game. They will battle all night for position and will attack the basket. Jackson, a 6-2 sophomore, is hitting 60.4 % of her shots. She is good at finishing and positioning herself without the basketball. As a team, San Jose's biggest advantage is in steals and blocked shots--Augustine (6-1, Sr.) has an amazing 42 blocks already this season, a 2.5 per-game clip. She had 24 points and career highs in both rebounds (14) and blocked shots (6) in a victory over South Dakota State. Augustine is a complete player, athletic, quick, a good perimeter shooter and a good passer.
Brittany Imaku (5-2, Jr.) and Anatero Uiagalelei (5-10, Sr.) are the guards while Amber Hall (6-4, Jr.) is the center. San Jose State has used this same lineup for 9 games in a row, but the Spartans will often go with a 3-guard, 2-forward set, bringing in either Myosha Barnes (5-5, Fr.) or Breana Fields (5-8, Fr.) as the other guard. Imaku is hitting 6.8 points per game while Uiagalelei (5.6 ppg) presents matchup problems with her height.
The upcoming game features five of the WAC's top ten scorers. In addition to Jackson (3rd) and Augustine (4th), Boise State's Jessica Thompson is 6th (14.4 average), Jackie Lee is 7th (13.7) and Nadia Begay is 10th (12.8). Boise State leads the conference in scoring defense, allowing just over 60 points a game and in three-point shooting. The Broncos are third in the WAC in rebounding. It's that final statistic that will be so crucial against San Jose State, keeping Jackson and Augustine away from the basket for easy putbacks and allowing Boise State to start fast breaks on the other end.
A victory Wednesday night over San Jose State will not make up for the close loss two weeks ago. But it would even the score and will build momentum as the Lady Broncos enter the stretch run of the WAC conference race.