Favorites advance in Day One of Mountain West Tournament

Kalin Sipes - The Sporting Tribune
The Mountain West tournament kicked off on Sunday, with women's teams playing at the Thomas and Mack Center in Las Vegas. 

LAS VEGAS — “Anything can happen in March” is an adage often said in post-season college basketball, and it proves to be true with unusual upsets every season.  

On the opening day of the Mountain West Conference women’s tournament, this couldn’t be further from the truth.  Fans saw entirely predictable results from the first three games. 

The Mountain West tournament kicked off on Sunday, with women’s teams playing at the Thomas and Mack Center in Las Vegas.  The first round matchups included Air Force vs. Fresno State, San Diego State vs. San Jose State and Boise State vs Utah State.

Air Force is the eighth seed in the Mountain West, and Fresno is the ninth.  Despite this, in both Fresno dominated both meetings with Air Force in the regular season.  Sunday’s was no different.  Fresno crushed Air Force 62-44 and held an advantage the entire game.

Air Force was able to keep the game within five points in the first quarter and ended the first half within 11 points of Fresno State.  However, after the half, Air Force was only able to score 5 points in the third quarter and then unable to narrow the lead. 

Mia Jacobs was the top scorer for Fresno with 25 points and Daejanae Harvey played with a confidence that Air Force was unable to match. 

Fresno State is set to play UNLV tomorrow at 12pm.  The 9 seed will take on UNLV, the number one seed in the Mountain West and defending Mountain West tournament champions.

The players and coach Jaime White are not discouraged. White joked with the media after the game, “If we keep it close I think we’ll give ourselves a chance to beat them, but don’t tell Lindy I said that”, referring to UNLV coach Lindy La Racque.  White elaborated, “We know their players, we know how they play and we’ve played every team better the second time we’ve played them.  So the chances are we’ll play better.”

In the second match up of the day, seventh seed San Diego State defeated tenth seed San Jose State 72-51. The Aztecs came out of the gate with an 8 point lead and San Jose State was not able to recover. 

San Jose’s Sydni Summers said after the game, “I feel like as a whole, it startled us because we came out ready. We came out ready to jump on them how we did the second time that we played them at home, so it kind of startled us and got us off track.” 

Just two weeks ago, Boise State was in second place in the Mountain West, but they entered the tournament as the sixth seed.  Boise was matched up against 11 seed Utah State and dominated the entire game with a record-breaking performance. Boise led Utah State with more than 20 points going into the half and ended the game with a score of 85-49.  

Senior guard Mary Kay Naro kept the pace of the game quick for Boise State.  Naro used her speed to get across the court, then was able to find an open teammate with ease.  

Abby Muse, another force on Boise State, made tournament history with the first ever triple double for Boise and second in tournament history.  In just 22 minutes Muse had 12 points, 10 assists and 11 rebounds.

Muse said, “There wasn’t a point where I was like let me go out and get a triple-double, it just happened.  It’s huge, not just for me, but for the team.  I think everyone needed this win to get back on track.  This is exactly what we needed for our team.”

Similarly, Boise’s Trista Hull said, “It shoots our confidence through the roof and puts us in a good head space for tomorrow.”

Hull was another Boise player with an impressive performance.  She put up a double-double with 10 points and 10 rebounds.

Utah’s Cheyenne Stubbs was able to force multiple Boise turnovers, however, Stubbs efforts alone were not enough to compete against Boise.  Stubbs played for 36 minutes and put up 21 points.

When Utah State coach Kayla Ard was asked about rebuilding for next season she said, “I won’t be, I just got off the phone with Utah State and was informed they will be going in a different direction, I respect their decision.”

Tomorrow will be another action packed day at the Thomas and Mack Center with four games for the women’s tournament.  Day two matchups include UNLV vs Fresno State, UNR vs Colorado State, New Mexico State vs San Diego State and Wyoming vs Boise State.