LAS VEGAS – Oh so close.
Nevada came within a split second of securing its first NCAA bid Friday afternoon against Boise State.
The Pack led by eight twice in the fourth quarter, but fell victim to A’Shanti Coleman’s putback with 1 second left that gave the Broncos a 62-60 win in the Mountain West championship game at the Thomas & Mack Center.
Coleman said it was her first game winning shot. She scored Boise State’s final two baskets.
Boise gets the NCAA automatic bid, its third in four years. Nevada finishes its first season under Amanda Levens with a 17-16 record.
“They’re a very good team,” Levens said. “I think they’re playing really well right now. We had the lead most of the game, just couldn’t quite hold on.
“I thought the offensive rebounding, especially in the fourth quarter, got us. They hurt us a little bit in transition in the fourth quarter. We needed to sprint back and play, I thought, a little bit better. Offensively, we missed some shots we’ve been making in the fourth quarter. Unfortunately, I thought Terae (Briggs) had a great look at a layup that just didn’t go down. T Moe had a couple of looks that she’s been making all week that just didn’t go down.”
Nevada, which led for nearly 33 minutes of the game, led 51-43 with 8:45 left and 54-46 with 8:05. The game was tied twice, 58 and 60, inside the final two minutes. Coleman tied the game at 60 with a layup.
With 54 seconds left, Nevada had the ball and a chance to take the lead. Jade Redmon cast up a shot with 31 seconds left that was off the mark, giving BSU the ball with 28.8 left.
“Our timing was off out of the timeout,” Levens said. “We started to run the play and CK (Camariah King) didn’t start the play with the ball in her hands, and we got messed up. It was a great job by Jade getting a shot up, but it was not what we were looking for out of that timeout; we wanted to go right away. I think CK was thinking we were going to hold the ball.
“I don’t know, that’s something we have struggled with. We struggled with it last game, too. We came out of timeouts and didn’t do a great job of executing.”
Boise State’s Marta Hermida put up a shot with 2 seconds left that was off the mark, but Shalen Shaw managed to tip the ball out, and Coleman beat the buzzer by a split second to send the Broncos dancing and leaving the Pack players, coaches and fans in shock.
“I guess for me it’s anger and disappointment,” said More, a senior guard. “That was the biggest defensive stop we needed in this tournament, and we got the stop, and gave up a no-board putback at the buzzer. There are no words to really describe that.”
“We didn’t box them out, to be honest,” Levens said. “I watched the last play before I came down here. We missed the box out. Then in transition we didn’t match up the play before then. And the other play with A’Shanti we came over and we doubled, we shouldn’t have doubled with two posts so we didn’t have any big patrolling the paint and she was wide open.”
Another key to the Boise comeback was its play in the zone, and the ability to limit Zeller’s touches. Zeller only got up seven shots, as the Broncos did a great job collapsing on her.
“I don’t think we did a great job against their press or zone,” Levens said. “I thought we played backward a little bit, which is exactly what they want. I don’t want to say we’re tired as an excuse, but our guards have been more aggressive all week, and tonight we were on our heels.
“We’d like to see her (Zeller) get 12 to 14. I give Boise credit, they fought with her a lot. I think that puts a lot of pressure on the officials, like who do you call that on because they’re both fighting with each other? She got a tough offensive call, in my opinion, wasn’t an offensive foul, because they’re both battling down there. It’s a tough. It’s a tough play to officiate.”
Nevada won three big stat categories – points off turnovers (16-9), second-chance points (19-13) and points in the paint (36-30) – but it wasn’t enough to secure the win.
NOTES: Tourney MVP Riley Lupfer led BSU with 19 points and Zeller had 14 for the Pack … Boise State’s Braydey Hodgins, Nevada’s duo of Moe and Zeller, and New Mexico’s Jaisa Nunn made the all-tournament team … Boise State is on a 10-game winning streak. The Broncos haven’t lost since Feb. 3 at UNLV.