Can lightning strike twice?
Benita Buggs (5-9 senior guard) certainly hopes so. Boise State hosts the #24 team in the nation, Louisiana Tech in a 2 p.m. tipoff. It was Buggs' three-pointer with 1.2 seconds left that led to pandemonium in Taco Bell Arena last year in the Broncos' 52-59 upset of the Lady Techsters.
The game pits the top two 3-point shooting teams in the Western Athletic Conference. Boise State (5-7 in the WAC, 13-11 overall), led by Nadia Begay (67-177), is hitting 34.8% from behind the arc while Tech is hitting 33.6%.
Louisiana Tech (11-1, 19-4 overall) averages 73.7 points a game (22nd in the nation) while Boise State's defense allows 61.5 points, 2nd in the WAC to Fresno State. Louisiana Tech's defense is right behind the Broncos in the league standings (62.7 ppg).
The Techsters shoot 72 percent from the free-throw line, hold their opponents to 35% shooting from the floor (16th in the nation) and average 44.6 rebounds per game. They are also 1st in the WAC in steals with 10.7 per game and 2nd in blocked shots (4.96). To the point, Coach Chris Long's team has no weaknesses.
Tech features a strong seven-woman rotation to wear down their opponents, usually resulting in lopsided Bulldog victories. Senior guard Aarica Ray-Boyd (6-0) leads the team with a 14.0 average (7th in the WAC); she also has 43 steals and 66 three-pointers on the season. Ray-Boyd's running mate Tasha Williams (5-7 senior) is the team leader with 93 assists (3rd in the conference) and 53 steals (2nd in the WAC), averages 12.6 points (11th in the league) and also sports a 5.2 rebounds per game average. Williams was the WAC Player of the Year last season and one of 100 finalists for the McDonald's All-American Team in high school. That's a whole lot of damage by two women!
Guard Shan Moore (5-11 junior) also shines in Louisiana Tech's 3-2 offense. Moore has 56 assists and 38 steals to go with her 10.6 average.
The backcourt trio is far from Tech's only weapons. Ty Moore (6-2 junior) averages 10.7 points, 9.0 rebounds (2nd in the league) and has rejected 38 shots this season. Moore has no less than 91 offensive rebounds this season. Blocking her out will be crucial to the Broncos' hopes this afternoon. Tamika Kirsch (6-0 junior) played for the South in McDonald's All-American game two years ago--she averages 7.0 points and 5.0 rebounds for the Lady Techsters.
Guard Eboni Mangum (5-8 freshman) is usually the first off the bench. Mangum too was a finalist for McDonald's High School All-American team and ranked as the 18th best high school senior in the country by Michael White's All-Star Girls Report. She averages 9.9 points a game. Amber Metoyer (5-11 junior) is a very capable backup and will give Moore and Kirsch time to rest.
5-9 freshman guard Jessica Thompson (27-75 from three-point land) paces the offensive attack for Coach Presnell's Broncos with her 14.1 average. Begay (5-9 junior guard) is a threat to launch a 3-point missile at any time and averages 13.2, 8th in the WAC. Sophomore Jackie Lee (5-11 forward) contributes 12.6 points a game (10th in the league).
Senior Michelle Hessing (6-2 center) will need to play the game of her life if the Broncos are to be victorious. Hessing averages 7.9 points and 5.0 rebounds per game for Boise State. Jackie Thompson (5-11 junior forward) gives the Broncos the strong athletic rebounder they need (5.0 rebounds a game) to combat the Bulldog inside game. Freshman Rebecca Kepilino (6-0 forward) enjoyed the best game of her career so far in Boise State's thrashing of New Mexico State with 13 points, eight rebounds and three assists. Kepilino raised her season averages to 5.4 points and 4.8 rebounds in the win over the Aggies.
Coach Presnell wasn't here for the big win over Louisiana Tech last year; it's his first season at the helm of the Bronco program. But the legendary Seattle Pacific coach would love to lead the Broncos to more Taco Bell magic as well. His Lady Broncos already have recorded the most wins in a season since 1999 and have notched some big wins of their own this season.
Boise State shocked Tech last year; a win this afternoon would be double dynamite!