WBB Mountain West Tournament: Day 1

The Mountain West basketball action got started on Sunday with the first round of the women’s tournament.

  • #9 San Jose State 68, #8 Nevada 78
  • #10 Air Force 55, #7 San Diego 63
  • #6 Utah State 62, #11 Colorado State 59

#9 San Jose State 68, #8 Nevada 78
Box score
Wolf Pack senior guard Jade Redmon started the game going 0-for-6, but she finished the night leading her team with 19 points, mostly all from the free throw line where she went 11 for 14. Freshman forward Emma Torbet came off the bench and followed closely with 15 points (a career-high) and added 11 rebounds to complete a double-double.
Post/forward Tarae Briggs also had a double-double with 12 points and 12 rebounds.  All told, the Wolf Pack dominated the game by dominating the boards and the free throw line, outrebounding San Jose 45-19 and shooting 31 free throws to 11 for the Spartans.
“If my shots aren’t falling, I try not to really think about that too much because that’s just how the game goes,” Redmond said. ” Sometimes you’re on: sometimes you’re off. I just tried to make up for it on defense, get my teammates the ball and hopefully that will pay off. And I think it did at the end.”
Nevada will face the Broncos in the second round, a big challenge as they are the #1 seed with a 25-4 overall record. During both meetings this season, Boise State walked away with the win.

#10 Air Force 55, #7 San Diego 63
Box score
Air Force played a more fast paced game than they have for much of the season, and it seemed to take San Diego a bit by surprise.  The Falcons jumped out to a 10-4 lead, and trailed by only one at the end of the quarter, 21-20.  San Diego started to better use their length and height in the second quarter and slowly opened a seven-point lead at half time. This was largely on the inside and outside scoring of freshman Mallory Adams who scored 14 points in the first half, on her way to a 20 point/9 rebound game.  The Aztec length also bothered the Air Force shorter guards, especially point guard Bianna Autrey who finished with 8 turnovers.  SDSU should probably have had a larger lead, given their torrid shooting in that first half going 18/33 from the field, but Air Force also shot decently (43%) and had more free throws.
The second half was drastically different. AF started playing more aggressively on defense, and the officials allowed a healthy amount of body contact. The Aztecs started making fewer shots, and their shooting percentage plummeted.  After scoring 21 points in each of the first two quarters, they were held to 13 points in the 3rd quarter, and a mere 8 in the 4th.  But while their offence was sputtering, they too started playing tougher defense, holding Air Force to 14 in the third quarter, and only s in the final stanza.  The Falcons closed to within 3 points at one point in the 3rd, and to within 4 points with 1:54 left in the game, but both times San Diego State responded quickly to open the lead back up to seven or more.
SDSU will face the Lobos Monday evening in the quarter finals (6pm Nevada time, 7pm  Mountain Time).  The teams split in both 2018-19 and in 2017-18 with the home team winning all four games.  The Aztecs are led by a group of talented underclassmen, and the Lobo success is likely to be determined by how welll Nike McClure can defend  freshman Mallory Adams, and how much the loss of Aisia Robertson’s defense against Aztec Tea Adams is felt.

#6 Utah State 62, #11 Colorado State 59
Box score
What should have been the easiest game based upon the seedings, turned out to be the tightest game of the day.   Utah State raced off to a 19-9 lead after the first quarter, and CSU was struggling with the same problems they have had all season, no inside presence, and streaky shooting from the outside.  The Aggies shot 58% in the first quarter, and held the Rams to 30% (and 0 for 4 from beyond three-point range), and gave CSU no second chance points.  What looked to have the makings of a rout leveled out in the second as Utah State cooled off (5 for 18, 28%) and Colorado heated up (10 fewer shots than USU, only 10, but they made half of them)–but Utah State’s size was still maintaining the lead in spite of the shooting normalized–the Aggies still led by 8 at half time.
Quarter three was more of the same.  While Utah St’s rebounding kept giving them many more shots (16), what shots the Rams got, they often made (50% again).  This time Utah’s shooting was so cold (3 of 16 for 18%) that it didn’t keep things static, CSU outscored USU by nine, and took the lead 38-37.
In the final quarter the script made another abrupt turn.  Both teams upped the offensive tempo and they each had their highest scoring quarter of the game.  Utah St started the quarter with an 11-0 run, but then saw Colorado St charge back.  The Rams matched the Aggies in field goal attempts for the first time all night, 12 each.  And the Rams made 8 of their 12 shots (though still, not a single offensive rebound all game)–two more field goals than Utah St made.  However the Aggies went to the free throw line an amazing 15 times in the 4th, making twelve of them–just enough for a three point win when CSU’s final shot to tie was short at the buzzer.
Lore DeVos, held in check by UNM last week, led Colorado St with 14 points, while forward/post Tatum Neubert had 13 and a team high 5 rebounds.  Utah St’s star Shannon Dufficy had yet another double-double, her 18th of the season (11 & 15) for the Aggies.
Utah State now faces #3 seed Wyoming in the second half of the Tuesday evening double header.  The two teams split their regular season games, each one winning at home in a couple of low scoring contests.