The Fresno State Bulldogs’ third shot at Boise State this season was not much different than the first two.
The top-seeded Broncos once again scored with relative ease and efficiency and eliminated the fourth-seeded Bulldogs with an 89-77 victory Tuesday night in the semifinals of the Mountain West Conference Women’s Basketball Tournament at the Thomas & Mack Center.
The Bulldogs came from eight down to tie the score at halftime, but were overwhelmed during the third and fourth quarters as Boise State hit 53.3 percent of its shots and 53.8 percent at the 3-point line.
Broncos guard Marta Hermida, who spent almost eight minutes on the bench after picking up a third foul with 2:43 remaining in the third quarter, still managed to score 19 of her career-high 30 points in the second half.
And the Broncos advanced to their third straight Mountain West tournament final, set to face No. 3 Wyoming on Wednesday night.
“Obviously, disappointed with the outcome,” Fresno State coach Jaime White said. “I thought that third quarter bothered us. We let them hit some shots. Credit to them, they hit some big shots and stretched that lead and then it was just a little too much that we couldn’t get back into it.”
Hermida, who scored 21 and 14 points in Boise State’s 72-60 and 83-76 wins against the Bulldogs during the regular season, also had 10 rebounds, eight assists and one steal in just 28 minutes Tuesday.
Boise State (27-4) used the three to push its lead, but the Bulldogs still were within four points when Hermida came back into the game out of a timeout with 4:47 to go.
Fresno State’s man-to-man defense didn’t slow the Broncos, though. Boise State was at 1.395 points per possession, had 11 assists on 16 baskets and hit 14 of 16 foul shots in that second half.
“Their 3-point shooting,” White said. “With (Riley) Lupher and (Braydey) Hodgins and then you’ve got Marta, who doesn’t always hit them but surely hit them tonight, and then we put her at the free throw line at the end for eight of those points.
“They’re tough, and I think they’re tough defensively. They make you play out away from the basket a little bit more and they have good speed. With (A’Shanti) Coleman, Coleman is one of the quicker posts in the league. I thought we did a really good job with the inside game, but we just didn’t get to those threes and a lot of those threes that we didn’t get to were in transition, a lot of teams struggle with that.”
Fresno State (19-12) just couldn’t keep up, despite 28 points from senior Candice White (who was the conference’s scoring leader) and 18 from point guard Aly Gamez.
The Broncos got too many open looks against the Bulldogs’ zone and pushed the ball.
Hermida, in particular. She hit 8 of 13 shots, 6 of 9 at the 3-point line.
“My teammates, they saw me open and I was like, ‘Just shoot it. That’s the only way you can help your team.’ I think they did a great job finding me and I just had to shoot. That’s the easy part. Jayde Christopher gave me really good passes. I did the easy part.”