BOISE — Flying back from Dallas over the weekend following a loss to TCU, Gordy Presnell admits he began to wonder whether his Boise State women’s basketball team was getting tougher from its difficult nonconference schedule.
After the Broncos’ Mountain West opener, all of the coach’s doubts have gone away.
Boise State erased multiple deficits late. Mallory McGwire scored 14 points combined in the fourth quarter and overtime — including a go-ahead 3-pointer with 11 seconds left — as Boise State escaped with a 83-82 victory over New Mexico on Wednesday at ExtraMile Arena.
The win gives the Broncos (5-4, 1-0 Mountain West) an early lead on the Lobos (6-2, 0-1), who were picked to finish second in the league’s preseason poll behind Boise State, which has won the last two Mountain West regular season titles and last three tournament titles.
“It was big, especially against New Mexico, somebody who’s right underneath us in Mountain West play,” said McGwire, who finished the game with 21 points and 17 rebounds. “That’s our first conference game and we have a target on our back. So to get that win off the bat in conference play, I think that just sets the tempo for the rest of our conference season.”
New Mexico gave Boise State all it could handle, as the Broncos tied the game after an eight-point deficit and then a seven-point deficit in the fourth quarter. Boise State trailed 82-77 with under a minute left in the overtime period, but 3-pointers by Riley Lupfer and McGwire, combined with tough defensive play, allowed the Broncos to get back into the game and steal the victory.
“We got some seniors who have been pretty successful for four years,” said Gordy Presnell. “Their culture is a never-say-die attitude. What I’m really proud of is we’re really fatigued. We’ve been across the United States for three weeks in a row against Power 5 opponents, for the most part. It’s good that they showed the will and the grit to get through this.”
Since Nov. 15, the Broncos have taken trips to University of Alabama-Birmingham, Louisville and TCU. Boise State entered the game having dropped three of its last four, but was able to fix what had plagued it in recent weeks.
New Mexico took a 67-59 lead on a 3-pointer by Jayla Everett early in the fourth quarter, but McGwire answered with a 3-pointer, sparking a 9-0 run to give the Broncos the lead and setting the stage for a big finish from the junior center.
Boise State fell behind 75-68, but the Broncos answered with another run, tying the game at 75-75 on an Ellie Woerner 3-pointer with 1:41 left in regulation.
“I think we always come together in moments like that, no matter how much we are down,” said Woerner, who finished with eight points. “Especially this group of seniors, we’ve played in games like that where we had to fight our way back. We just never gave up, we knew we could win it.”
New Mexico took the lead with 32.2 seconds left, but a McGwire putback attempt on a missed Hodgins layup with 16.9 seconds tied the game at 77-77. Woerner made a defensive play on a New Mexico inbound pass in the final second to prevent the Lobos from attempting a go-ahead basket.
Things looked bleak for the Broncos through much of the overtime period, as Boise State missed its first nine shots, falling behind 82-77 when Jordan Hosey hit one of two free throws with 1:57 left.
The Broncos made the final two shots, and were they ever huge.
“We kept thinking we were going to draw a foul and go up against contact,” Presnell said. “Neither team went to the free-throw line very much, we only went three times the whole 45 minutes. Then all of a sudden they were helping off Mallory, then we put Mal in the perimeter and they were helping off Riley and Mal got a shot.”
Lupfer’s 3-pointer with 56 seconds left cut the Lobo lead down to two and after a blocked shot by McGwire, A’Shanti Coleman got the rebound, giving the Broncos a shot at either the tie or the win.
Boise State tried to get the ball to Lupfer, who had 18 points off six 3-pointers, but she was double teamed. So the ball went to McGwire, who sank the shot with 11 seconds left giving Boise State the lead.
“I just came up and was like ‘wait a second, I’m open,’” said McGwire. “So I just shot it and I thought it was short. I didn’t think it was going in. But it did, and that was great.”
Hodgins finished with 14 points, while Coleman scored 12. Jayde Christopher had 10 assists in the win.
Boise State hits the road for a game at Colorado State on Sunday before returning to ExtraMile Arena next Wednesday to continue its nonconference slate with a game against BYU.