Boise State vs Nevada Basketball

Boise State guard Jayde Christopher (23) goes up for a shot attempt during a game against Nevada on Feb. 2, 2019, at Taco Bell Arena.

BOISE — Riley Lupfer has seen a lot of highs as a member of the Boise State women’s basketball team.

The senior guard has seen the Broncos win 76 games over the past three years and made three trips to the NCAA Tournament. But as she gets ready to tip off her final season, Lupfer has a heightened sense of anticipation, stating that she feels like there’s “something special coming.”

With the current trajectory of the program, who’s to say she’s wrong?

“We keep building and getting better every year and I feel like we showed every year we’ve gone a step further than the past year,” said Lupfer. “I don’t think this year is going to be any different. We added more talent, a couple of our redshirts are playing this year, and they’re very, very good. We’re just clicking, we all have the same kind of goal in mind.”

The Broncos begin their 2019-20 campaign with an exhibition game at 4 p.m. today against Concordia at ExtraMile Arena. It will be the lone exhibition game for the Broncos, who open the season at home against Lewis-Clark State on Tuesday.

The Broncos are coming off a year where they went 28-5, won their second straight Mountain West regular season title — and third straight conference tournament title — before taking Oregon State to the brink of an upset in the first round of the NCAA Tournament, falling to the Beavers 80-75 in overtime.

The women’s college basketball world has taken notice of the Broncos. Boise State received 15 votes in the preseason AP Top 25 poll and 12 votes in the coaches poll. The Broncos also received an invitation to the Preseason WNIT, where they will host defending Big Sky Champion Portland State next Friday, could host 2019 Sweet 16 team Missouri State in the second round and, if they keep winning, could match up against Oklahoma and Oregon State over the next couple of weeks.

No doubt, the outside expectations are a little new for the Broncos. But they embrace the challenge.

“These seniors have only lost one championship, freshman year in the (regular season) and then they’ve won every other one,” Boise State coach Gordy Presnell said. “So I think they’ve been through that kind of thing and they’re just ready to compete. I’m sure we’ll have some setbacks, there’s low points in every season. But it’s just a good group to work with and they’ve been through that stuff before.”

The Broncos will have six seniors on their roster this season, with Lupfer, Brady Hodgins, A’Shanti Coleman and Jayde Christopher each starting at least 20 games for the Broncos last year. They also add Oregon transfer Mallory McGwire, who is expected to give the Broncos an added presence in the post. Sophomore forward Rachel Bowers has also shown a lot of improvement during the offseason, teammates say, and should be able to help McGwire down low.

“We have some bigs, Rachel and Mallory,” Christopher said. “So we have really good size. We have our shooters back. We’re missing Marta (Hermida) and Joyce (Harrell), but I feel like we can fill those positions well.”

The experience they bring back should help the Broncos navigate a stacked nonconference slate. In addition to the Preseason WNIT games, Boise State scheduled home games against postseason WNIT Sweet 16 team Pepperdine as well as BYU, which won an NCAA Tournament game last season. The Broncos hit the road for games against Louisville, ranked No. 9 in both preseason polls, and postseason WNIT semifinalist TCU.

“I get anxiety, it’s really stupid but I start looking at everybody, Missouri State — if we were to get by Portland State — Missouri State won (Monday) by almost 100,” Presnell said. “They’re good, like really, really good. Then BYU lost their best guard and still three other people got on the preseason All-West Coast Conference team. I can’t do that, I just need to worry about Concordia now.”

John Wustrow is the assistant sports editor of the Idaho Press. He is a Michigan native and a graduate of Indiana University.

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