Broncos Win Thriller To Advance To WAC Final

Rivalries do not get any better than this. No matter what the sport, the Boise State-Fresno State game is not to be missed. This afternoon, the Lady Broncos battled the Bulldogs to the end, and advanced to their fourth conference title game and the first since joining the WAC in 2001.

The Boise State-Fresno State rivalry has spread to all other sports.  The Lady Broncos and Bulldogs battled for 40 minutes this afternoon in Las Cruces, New Mexico, clawing for every point, diving for every loose ball, and contesting every shot.  In the end, Coach Gordy Presnell's Boise State team prevailed 68-59 to advance to the Western Athletic Conference finals for the first time in its history. 


The final score was in no way indicative of the struggle.  For at least 30 of those 40 minutes, the two teams were separated by four or fewer points.  Back and forth the two talented teams went at each other.  Fresno State controlled the lead the entire first half, going up by as many as eight points before the Broncos stormed back to close it to 30-28 at the intermission. 


The Broncos continued the second half where they left off, going on a 12-3 run to lead 40-33 with Jessica Thompson pouring in eight points during that stretch.  That was to be the biggest Boise State lead until late in the game.  Fresno came back with vengeance, finally tying the game at 47 on two Chantella Perera free throws with 9:39 left.  After three more minutes and four more Perera free throws, the Bulldogs had assumed command again 51-49.  It was anyone's game.


Thompson again performed in the clutch, sinking three baskets in a row to propel Boise State into the lead once again 55-51.  Would Fresno fold?  Not in this great college basketball game.  The Bulldogs rallied once again to tie it at 57 with four minutes remaining.  With the pressure mounting, the Lady Broncos did not fold nor were they tentative.  Presnell's crew played aggressive attacking offense and stout defense down the stretch, and are in the championship game as a result.  The Broncos sank seven of eight free throws as part of an 11-2 run and got key steals and blocked shots which led to fast break opportunities to finish the game.


Thompson was phenomenal the second half, hitting 22 of her 24 points to lead the Broncos.  Thompson also had six rebounds, an assist and a steal.  Tasha Harris added 11 points, a season high nine rebounds and two steals as well.  Senior Michelle Hessing was held to four points, but that was enough to give her 1,000 for her great Bronco career.  Rebecca Kepilino added six points and six rebounds while Jackie Lee had five points and hit the boards strong with nine rebounds.  The Broncos outscored Fresno 20-4 in the paint and the deep Boise State bench proved to be vital in a 22-5 advantage there. 


Tierre Wilson led Fresno State with 18 points, eight rebounds and four steals.  Perera hit for 14 points and had five rebounds for the Bulldogs, which slipped to 18-13 overall.   


The Broncos tied a school record with their 23rd win against eight defeats.  Boise State meets host and seventh-seed New Mexico State tomorrow at 1 p.m. in the WAC final.  The homestanding Aggies (13-17) downed Nevada 73-62 in the other semifinal to earn a spot opposite the Broncos.  Aggie faithful believe they can "stack the deck" against the #1 seed Broncos by packing the facility and rattling Boise State.  The winner of tomorrow night's clash will receive an automatic berth in the NCAA Tournament.  The game will be shown live on CSTV (channel 610 on Direct TV) and KTVB's 24/7 on cable television and broadcast by KBSU 730 AM.





Bronco Country Top Stories