Boise State women open season with 74-63 win over Big West favorite CSUN

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BOISE — The Boise State women’s basketball team didn’t shoot great, had too many turnovers and wasn’t overly impressive Thursday night in the season opener at Taco Bell Arena.

The Broncos still won by double digits.

Marta Hermida had 16 points and four assists and Joyce Harrell added six points and a career-high 11 rebounds as Boise State topped visiting CSUN 74-63 to start the year 1-0.

“We can improve a lot, that’s the good thing,” Hermida said. “We won but we can improve a lot.”

The Broncos didn’t start with some patsy, either. CSUN won the Big West Conference Tournament and advanced to the NCAA Tournament a year ago and was the preseason pick to win the conference this season.

But Boise State burst out to a 8-0 lead in the early going and had a comfortable margin for much of the game despite struggling to shoot from both the field and the 3-point line. The Broncos shot just 39 percent (27 for 69) from the field and 29 percent from 3-point range (9 for 31). Record-setting 3-point sharpshooter Riley Lupfer went just 1 for 6 from deep, yet the Broncos never seemed to be in trouble.

“It’s a great win for our team,” Boise State coach Gordy Presnell said. “Even though we kind of didn’t play well down the stretch, they have a great chance of winning the Big West and getting back to the NCAA Tournament so it will be an RPI game for us for sure.”

On winning despite not looking overly impressive, Presnell quipped, “I feel good about that. I was a little disappointed in the last four or five minutes. We didn’t close the door.”

Boise State wanted to get off to a stronger start to the season after going 6-5 in non-conference play last season. The Broncos, who were the preseason pick to win the Mountain West, are looking to get back to the NCAA Tournament for the fourth time in the past five years.

They got off on the right foot Thursday thanks to Hermida, who made 4 of 7 shots from beyond the 3-point line and 5 of 8 shots overall. A’Shanti Coleman added 11 points and six rebounds and Braydey Hodgins had eight points and six rebounds for the Broncos, who held CSUN to 34 percent shooting (20 of 59) for the game.

“We can play a lot better,” Harrell said. “It’s early in the season and we’re still trying to get to know each other. In practice you kind of know each others plays so you can kind of cheat it, so going against other teams now it’s just so early in the season. We’re trying to get the chemistry going so when conference play comes we’ll be good to go.”

Channon Fluker, a 6-foot-4 forward and one of the top post players in the country, had 17 points and 15 rebounds to lead CSUN.

The Broncos didn’t appear to be threatened by CSUN and held close to a 10-point margin for much of the game. Boise State led 34-27 early in the third quarter but slowly and steadily built the margin to as many as 20 points.

They led 55-43 when freshman Jade Loville hit a corner 3-pointer just before the end of the third quarter and Ellie Woerner opened the fourth quarter with a 3-pointer of her own and another bucket to push Boise State’s lead to 63-43.

The Matadors used a 19-6 run to pull within seven at 69-62 with 1:30 to play, but the Broncos hit their free throws down the stretch and the margin never got any smaller.

“I wish we would have played better,” Presnell said. “But it’s a great win for our program.”

Boise State is back in action Saturday at 4:30 when they host Southern Oregon at Taco Bell Arena ahead of the 7 p.m. men’s home opener against Idaho State.

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