Boise State entered the day having moved up four spots in the RPI rankings, but at No. 42, the Broncos were far from a sure bet to make yet another trip to the NCAA Tournament.
They needed to win.
They made a statement.
Top-seeded Boise State led nearly throughout to extend its reign in Mountain West women’s basketball to three conference titles in a row and four in five years, beating No. 3 Wyoming 68-51 on Wednesday night at the Thomas & Mack Center.
New Mexico is the only other team to win three consecutive conference championships, pulling off that feat between 2003 and 2005.
“Everyone wants to talk about, ‘Well, you’re on the bubble. You could get in. You could do this,’” said Boise State guard Braydey Hodgins, the tournament Most Valuable Player. “But we just focus on the now, and tonight it was beating Wyoming, so we inserted ourselves in that conversation, and then we punch our own ticket.
“We don’t need the outsiders or the doubters who say we shouldn’t be in there despite our record, despite how successful we are, so we decided to take care of business ourselves.”
Boise State, which posted a school-record for victories in going 28-4, got that much-desired automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament. The Broncos are projected as a No. 12 seed in the latest ESPN bracket forecast.
They made 8 of 14 3-pointers and shot 50 percent overall against Wyoming (22-8). Hodgins led Boise State with 16 points, one of four players in double figures.
Marta Gomez scored 19 points to lead the Cowgirls, who made their first appearance in the Mountain West championship game.
“Boise State played as well as I’ve witnessed,” Wyoming coach Joe Legerski said. “I thought they were really the aggressor tonight, both offensively and defensively. Made us rush with things that we normally take our time with.”
What’s scary for the Cowgirls and the rest of the conference is it doesn’t look like Boise State’s finished. The Broncos have only three seniors, and one, center Marijke Vanderschaaf, might get an extra season of eligibility.
“I’ve coached for about 32 years,” Boise State’s Gordy Presnell said. “It’s the closest-knit group that I’ve ever been around, and I thought they played very well today.”
*Braydey Hodgins, Boise State
*Marta Hermida, Boise State
*Candice White, Fresno State
*Sophia Ramos, San Diego State
*Marta Gomez, Wyoming
*MVP — Hodgins