The month of January has been kind so far to the Boise State Broncos men’s and women’s basketball teams. This week, however, the road to the Mountain West tournament gets tougher.
A first-place ranking for the Boise State (12-2, 3-0) women was to be expected. The majority of their roster returned in 2018-19 and, as winners of the Mountain West tournament in three of the last four seasons, were preseason favorites to once again take the crown.
The Broncos have held true to form through 14 games and are off to their best start since they joined the Mountain West. Winners of seven straight, Boise State is coming off a win against San Jose State in which they dropped 99 points. Only one of their losses can be considered a “bad loss”, in which they fell at Washington State (6-9), 95-71.
Their only other loss was to second-ranked Louisville (14-1), which had been undefeated until a loss to number one Notre Dame. Boise State lost to the Cardinals 74-55 in Boise back in November.
This week, the Broncos take to the road to face Nevada (5-10, 1-3) and the other undefeated team in conference, Fresno State (11-4, 4-0).
A deep roster has helped Boise State, with the Broncos able to go 11 deep. A 12th is also possible with the return of Marijke Vanderschaaf. Vanderschaaf was an all-conference honorable mention a few seasons back and hadn’t played since tearing her ACL in December of 2017.
Junior Riley Lupfer leads the Broncos in scoring with 12.9 ppg. She is shooting 34.5 percent from three-point range, knocking down 38 threes.
Junior Braydey Hodgins is up next at 10.3 ppg (42.2 percent on threes) while transfer guard Jayde Christopher has been quite the floor general with 78 assists.
The starting frontcourt has also been a force. Junior A’Shanti Coleman (9.6 ppg) and Senior Joyce Harrell (5.4 rpg) control the inside on both ends of the floor.
Senior Marta Hermida has also been instrumental, scoring in double figures six times and averaging 8.7 points per game.
Boise State Broncos men
Riding a three-game winning streak, conference play has seen the Boise State (8-8, 3-0) men’s team turn things around from their non-conference slate.
Playing only nine players, Boise State battled a combination of injuries, tepid offensive play, and bad luck in non-conference play. Even with this, they could have easily been 9-4 instead of 5-8 as they lost four of their games by three points or less.
The Broncos are currently tied for first with UNLV as the two teams are the only ones undefeated in conference.
A true Mountain West measuring stick will take place this week when Boise State hosts the Nevada Wolf Pack (16-1, 3-1) and Fresno State Bulldogs (12-4, 3-1).
Boise State faces a Nevada team who has been ranked in the top-ten most of this season. The Broncos have lost their last four games against the Wolf Pack.
Fresno State has been an interesting rivalry over the past five seasons or so. The Broncos and Bulldogs tend to play close games and they have split their last six matchups.
Nevada defeated Fresno State 74-64 on Saturday night.
Part of the reason the Broncos have started 3-0 in conference is the return of a healthy Alex Hobbs. Hobbs averages 10.4 ppg but in conference play he averages 17.7 ppg to go along with 5.7 rebounds.
Junior Justinian Jessup leads the team at 12.8 ppg. Jessup is shooting 41.7 percent from three. Jessup and Hobbs combined to make seven of Boise State’s 15 three-pointers in a 87-64 victory over San Jose State.
R.J. Williams is second on the team in scoring (12.7 ppg) and rebounding (6.3). Scoring has gone done for Williams so far in Mountain West play. The junior has only attempted 13 shots over the last three games.
Derrick Alston also averages in double figures (10.4 ppg). The redshirt sophomore had a career-night in a victory over San Diego State, scoring 30 points.
Boise State women: @Nevada (1/16, 7:30 pm MT), @Fresno State (1/19, 2 pm MT)
Boise State men: vs Nevada (1/15, 7 pm MT), vs Fresno State (1/19, 3:30 pm MT)