In battle of NCAA Tournament teams, defending Big West champion Cal State Northridge no match for Boise State
Coach Gordy Presnell had quite the dilemma going into the 2018-19 Boise State women’s basketball season.
Judging by the season opener, it doesn’t appear he’s any closer to solving it.
All 12 eligible Broncos got on the court Thursday night, and 10 of them scored, in Boise State’s 74-63 victory over defending Big West champion Cal State Northridge at Taco Bell Arena.
That balance will make divvying up playing time a lot harder for Presnell and his staff as the season continues.
“We have some kids who have played in a lot of big games,” Presnell said. “But we’ve always tried to give everyone a chance and then squeeze (the playing time) down as the season goes on.”
Seniors Marta Hermida and Joyce Harrell each made their case for more action. Hermida led the Broncos with 16 points — including four 3-pointers on seven attempts — and Harrell pulled down a career-high 11 rebounds.
Hermida started all 33 games for the Broncos last season and earned a spot on the All-Mountain West team, but the guard from Madrid, Spain, still felt there were aspects of her game that had to improve.
“I always struggle with the threes. That was one thing on my game that I had to improve,” Hermida said. “I’ve been working on that.”
On a guard-heavy roster, Harrell is slated to play an important role inside as the Broncos await the return of redshirt senior center Marijke Vanderschaaf from a torn ACL.
Despite a size disadvantage, the 6-foot Harrell, a more natural fit at forward, held her own against Northridge’s Channon Fluker. The 6-4 center is a twotime Big West Player of the Year and was recently named to the Lisa Leslie Award watch list, which recognizes the top centers in women’s NCAA Division I college basketball.
“Joyce Harrell did an outstanding job,” Presnell said. “... (Fluker) still had great stats, but I think we really did a good job on her in terms of the design and what Joyce was able to accomplish.”
Boise State (1-0) built an 8-0 lead within the opening 1:30 against the Matadors (0-2), and the Broncos pushed that advantage to as many as 20 points near the start of the fourth quarter in a matchup between two defending conference champions that played in the
NCAA Tournament last season.
“It’s a great win for our team even though we didn’t play well down the stretch of the game,” Presnell said. “They have a great chance of winning the Big West and going back to the NCAAs. It’ll be an RPI game for us for sure.”
Junior forward A’Shanti Coleman was the only other Bronco in double digits with 11 points, while fellow juniors Riley Lupfer and Braydey Hodgins added nine and eight points, respectively. Harrell, Sofia Galeron and Jade Loville chipped in with six points apiece.
“We always have different people who can step up,” Harrell said. “Just knowing you have so many different threats is a good feeling.”
Presnell has two more home games to tinker with his lineup before the Broncos host perhaps the biggest regular season game in program history. No. 5 Louisville — a 2018 Final Four qualifier — comes to Taco Bell Arena on Monday, Nov. 19. The Cardinals defeated BSU in the first round of the NCAA tourney in March.
“We have to play with a little more confidence and that hoop’s got to get a little bit bigger,” Presnell said. “...We have some really tough games down the road.”
Note: Presnell said freshman guard Maggie Freeman of Beaverton, Oregon, will redshirt the 2018-19 season.
Junior forward A’Shanti Coleman had 11 points, six rebounds and three blocked shots in Boise State’s 74-63 victory over Cal State Northridge on Thursday at Taco Bell Arena.