Joe Auletta & Isabel Gonzalez
@Lobo2x53     @cisabelg

All the favorites punched their ticket to the next round except for the #2 New Mexico Lobos who found themselves falling to the #7 seed San Diego State Aztecs in overtime. This is looking like a pattern as it’s the third year in a row that the #7 seed upsets the #2.

Results:

  • #1 Boise State 72, #8 Nevada 67
  • #4 Fresno State 66, #5 UNLV 55
  • #2 New Mexico 61, #7 San Diego State 70
  • #3 Wyoming 64, #6 Utah State 41

#1 Boise State 72, #8 Nevada 67
Box score

The Wolf Pack kept it close but MW Coach of the Year Gordy Presnell and the Broncos came out victorious in the end. Boise State’s Braydey Hodgins came out strong offensively with 37 points. Fourteen of those came from her 14-0f-15 shooting from the charity line.

“We came here knowing we were going to stay here till Wednesday….Luckily it was me, but tomorrow it might be somebody else,” Hodgins said about her performance.

The first quarter of the game was close with both teams switching the lead and the largest margin being three points. Nevada controlled most of the second quarter until the end. This was not something that was shocking to Presnell.

“I think most tops seeds, when (the opposite) team comes and plays the day before, might struggle early. We did,” he said.

Nevada outshot the #1 seed 50 percent to 39 percent. Boise State was up 11 points at the 5:58 mark but the Wolf Pack fought and it was only a one-point game with 22 seconds left.

#4 Fresno State 66, #5 UNLV 55
Box score

UNLV has been an enigma all season. As much talent as anyone in the conference, they played tough defense and won at times, and seemed dysfunctional other days. Along the way they upheld their reputation as the least liked team across the conference. Today there were 10 fan bases rooting for Fresno, and only a very occasional cheer—from a disturbingly small UNLV home crowd—cheering for Las Vegas.

The game itself was a contrast in skill sets and approach. From the opening tap, Fresno shared the ball very well. UNLV keyed on MWC leading scorer Candice White, and White facilitated, keeping the ball moving and getting teammates open shots. She did get her own 17 points on 7 for 11 shooting, but four had between 9 and 11 shots, and all four wound up in double digits. Defensively Fresno played sound, aggressive defense and was a net +10 on turnovers.

UNLV surprisingly struggled to score inside, and actually shot better from three-point range (46%) than two-point shots (34%). Star center Katie Powell, clearly slowed with an ankle that has bothered her all season, did not have the kind of dominating game she has had in the past. She did lead the Rebels in scoring with 17 points, but they were mostly outside “jump” shots—though the ankle didn’t really let her jump. She used her height and length to just shoot over her defenders. Paris Strawther added 9 points, but no other UNLV player had more than seven. The star players canceled each other out with 17, but Candice White just had more help from her teammates.

Fresno will now play #1 seed Boise on Tuesday.

#2 New Mexico 61, #7 San Diego State 70
Box score
Click here for full recap

The biggest question going into the game was clear—how would Jayla Everett and Jayden de la Cerda handle the ball, especially if the Aztecs pressed. There were a few passes that went a little awry—mostly high—but for the most part ball control was not a problem. The Lobos only committed 17 turnovers—not great, but not horrible.

Defensively they were very good—contesting almost every shot, and holding the Aztecs to 32% shooting from the field. And several of those baskets were after a defensive stop rolled around and landed in a SDSU player’s hands for a put-back. Until the last five minutes of regulation and the overtime, the Lobos were shooting decently—overall. They certainly got a lot more good looks, mostly from some good ball movement.

New Mexico’s best player, and MWC player of the year, Jaisa Nunn certainly did her part with 24 points and 19 rebounds. Her running mate at the post, Nike McClure, added a pleasant but unexpected 8 points to go with 11 rebounds in 28 minutes, and good defense on Mallory Adams who had killed Air Force the night before.

The Lobos got lots of open long range shots—29 of them to be precise. They just didn’t make very many. Jaedyn made three of them in the first half. And missed ten for the game, for a 23% success rate. Not very good, in truth, but the team would have been very happy with that kind of shooting overall. The rest of the team was a frigid 0 for 16. Had everyone else hit 23%, the Lobos would have won going away. But they didn’t. Outside shooting has been inconsistent for UNM all season, and today was as down a shooting day as they have had.

#3 Wyoming 64, #6 Utah State 41 
Box score

The 25-point win is the largest margin of victory in the MW tournament so far. Wyoming got going early and never gave the Aggies a lead. Once the Cowgirls got a double digit lead with two minutes left in the first quarter, they only fell to single digit a couple of times in the second. The team got ahead by as many as 27 points during the game.

The Cowgirls offense shot at 53 percent form the field with Marta Gomez leading all scorers with 19 points in 8-of-10 shooting. Their offense held the Aggies to 35 percent shooting from the field. Utah State only got two chances from the free throw line while Wyoming got 13.

New Mexico is the only team that the Cowgirls couldn’t beat during the regular season. They might have been looking for the rematch, but now they will face San Diego State in the semifinals instead. This might give them more confidence as, during their only meeting this season, the Cowgirls beat the Aztecs 87-45.

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