The Broncs have now reached the home stretch of the regular season but its end marks the beginning of tournament action. The Broncs, with a 5-5 conference record, are in a three-way tie with New Mexico State University and Grand Canyon University.
The team has dropped three in a row, including back-to-back home tries against Seattle University and to the WAC’s No. 1 team, Idaho, Feb. 8. The best start in program history has hit a snag.
Freshman Shawnte’ Goff led the Broncs the last two games with a total of 32 points, six rebounds, nine assists and two steals. Her performance in the Idaho game included a career-high in blocks with two.
“It was a very tough loss,” said the freshman guard from Copperas Cove. “They are now 10-0 (in the conference), but usually we come back because we were here at home. This is our sanctuary and this is what gets us hyped. It’s all about who is going to rebound, who’s going to hit shots.”
After three tough losses, the Broncs get back to work and try to get back on the winning side of the court, as they prepare to take their game on the road this week. UTPA starts a three-game road trip Feb. 13 against Chicago State University. The Broncs defeated the Cougars 66-44 in their first meeting Jan. 18. Goff believes that this team will bounce after these losses and be ready for the rematch.
“We are just going to come in the gym, do what we need to do and get ready for the next couple of road games,” said Goff, who is averaging 12.6 points per game for the year. “Our road record is not very good…so we are looking to bring back a lot of energy and get these wins.”
The back-to-back home losses now makes the Broncs’ home record 7-3, while on the road they are 4-9. With six games left, they will try and complete the first outright winning season in history.
Head Coach Dan Hipsher was disappointed in the efforts of the two home games, where the Broncs had previously only lost once, against Virginia Commonwealth University, 67-57, back in November.
“Well I’ve been doing this for 38 years now and during the course of the year you will have tough games like we’ve had,” Hipsher said. “I think we got good play out of Shawnte’ Goff, she continues to get better.”
Hipsher believes that the post players have to do a better job rebounding, boxing out, scoring and staying out in foul trouble in order to have the chance to do better and potentially win down the stretch. He looked at the film from the Idaho game where the Broncs lost by more than 30 points; there were not a lot of positives.
“We are going to work hard and get better,” Hipsher said. “From experience it happens at times to get beat like that and you hate that it happens on our home court, so we got to bounce back.”
The Broncs have six games left in the regular season with two more home games against California State University Feb.27 and Utah Valley March 1. Then, they finish off the regular season against Grand Canyon University March. 8, after which they have four days to gather themselves as they prepare the WAC Tourney, March 12-15 in Las Vegas.