Shortly before the Boise State women’s basketball team left for Corvallis, Oregon last week for its NCAA Tournament first-round game against Oregon State, Broncos coach Gordy Presnell expressed his disappointment in not getting a neutral site game.
Presnell said if Boise State was in the position to go to the NCAA Tournament next year, hopefully they’d do more during the regular season to secure a higher seed.
However, he noted, it’s difficult to do better than the 28-4 record they posted entering the tournament.
But it’s not that crazy to think that the Broncos of next season could have the talent to one up this last one.
Boise State will return a lot of key pieces from a team which won a second straight Mountain West regular season title and third straight conference tournament title. And with the addition of a Pac-12 transfer in the post, talent should not be a question.
As for motivation, the Broncos might just have gotten that after leading Oregon State by four points with 17 seconds to go before falling 80-75 in overtime.
“I think we were way better than a 13 seed, and we’ll be able to step that up for next year,” point guard Jayde Christopher said after the loss.
Christopher will join a corps of experienced guards who return for the Broncos, including Boise State’s two leading scorers, Riley Lupfer and Braydey Hodgins.
The Broncos also return a pair of guards who had key moments coming off the bench this season in Ellie Woerner, who had 23 points in a win against Idaho this season, and true freshman Jade Loville, who averaged 37 points per game as a high school senior in Washington and scored in double figures five times for the Broncos this season.
Down low, the Broncos will get back forward A’Shanti Coleman, who started all 33 games this season. But much of the focus in the post for Boise State figures to be on a player who didn’t appear in a single game this year.
Mallory McGwire will be eligible to play next season after the transfer from Oregon had to sit out this season due to NCAA rules. The 6-foot-5 center started 43 games for the Ducks over two seasons in Eugene and had a double-double in Oregon’s first round NCAA Tournament win against Temple during her freshman season in 2017.
The Broncos also return Rachel Bowers, often the first person off the bench this year as a true freshman. Bowers had 10 points in the loss to Oregon State, all in the second half or overtime.
“Obviously with Mallory McGwire here and Rachel, we can get size,” Presnell said.
The Broncos will be losing two starters — guard Marta Hermida and forward Joyce Harrell — to graduation.
Hemida averaged 10.6 points per game for the Broncos, and led Boise State with 22 points in the loss to Oregon State. Harrell led the team with 5.5 rebounds per game.
“They’ve been unbelievable during their careers,” Presnell said. “Marta was a Mountain West Freshman of the Year, she was All-Conference, All-Tournament. She’s everything that we could ask and exemplify as a student-athlete. Joyce has just been the person that bonds our team together. She’s the barbequer, gets them all together when things aren’t going great. The careers they had at Boise State are pretty impressive.”
Boise State could also get a boost in its rankings from its schedule next season. The Broncos are scheduled to make a trip to Louisville to wrap up a home-and-home series with the Cardinals. Boise State played Louisville tough in the first half at Taco Bell Arena this year before falling 74-55.
Louisville, the No. 1 seed of the Albany Region who will play Oregon State on Friday in the Sweet 16, will lose first-team All-American Asia Durr after this season.
Boise State is also entertaining an invitation to the preseason WNIT next season. That tournament would likely give the Broncos an opportunity to play multiple teams from power conferences. This season’s preseason WNIT field included four NCAA Tournament teams in Iowa State, Miami, Auburn and Marquette.
The future is bright to say the least.