Ellie Woerner can tell you the exact number of days from her final game in a Portland women’s basketball uniform to her first as a Boise State Bronco.
It was 616 — not that she was counting.
Woerner and fellow transfer A’Shanti Coleman sat out the 2016-17 season per NCAA transfer rules, and now the redshirt sophomores are playing crucial roles for the Broncos in the closing stretch of their Mountain West Conference schedule.
Coleman, who played one season at Arizona, scored a career-high 15 points and made her first start in Boise State’s 91-85 victory over New Mexico on Wednesday at Taco Bell Arena.
The win kept the Broncos (14-9 overall, 8-4 MW) in the hunt for the Mountain West’s regular-season title with six league games remaining.
“It was too long,” said Coleman, who played her last game at Arizona on March 4, 2016. “I don’t know exactly, but it was a pretty long journey of sitting out.”
Coleman and Woerner were allowed to practice with the Broncos last season, but when it came to game time, they had permanent spots on the bench.
“Even if I wasn’t playing, I could still contribute otherwise by sitting on the bench helping my team or being scout team in practice,” Coleman said. “I felt like even though I sat out, it was still beneficial, because it shows now, all the progress I had in the offseason while everybody else was in season.”
Coleman, a deceptively quick 6-foot-2 forward, leads the Broncos with 21 blocks and entered Wednesday’s game averaging 6.5 points and 3.7 rebounds per game while shooting 53 percent from the field.
“She loves to run, and I love to assist people that run the floor. It’s been so much fun to play with her,” said Boise State junior guard Marta Hermida, who scored a career-high and game-leading 26 points against the Lobos.
“She’s giving us a lot of fastbreaks and movement on the court. That’s a thing that we really need.”
Woerner started Boise State’s first 15 games this season but has since provided a spark off the bench the last eight games. Although she fouled out against the Lobos, Woerner still managed five points and two assists in 15 minutes.
“We definitely know each other’s struggles,” Coleman said of Woerner.
Both players have provided a listening ear for point guard Jayde Christopher, who is sitting out this season after transferring to Boise State from Kansas. Christopher will have two years of eligibility remaining with the Broncos beginning in 2018-19.
“You’ll get through it,” Coleman said. “When your time comes, it comes.”
On Jan. 3, New Mexico beat Boise State 100-83 as the Lobos closed out the game on a 17-5 scoring run.
Boise State didn’t give the Lobos (18-7, 6-6) a chance at an encore performance Wednesday.
New Mexico made two 3-pointers in the final 30 seconds, but the Broncos held their ground by making 11-of-12 free throws in the fourth quarter.
“This time I thought we played, maybe for the first time all year, really well down the stretch,” Boise State coach Gordy Presnell said. “We did have a couple of turnovers, but we hit big shots. Shalen (Shaw) hit big shots. Marta hit big free throws, and we have not been able to do that this year — close out games. We’ve had five games with double-digit leads in the fourth quarter and lost.”
The Broncos play at home again Saturday when they host Utah State at 2 p.m.
Notes: The Broncos celebrated the 32nd annual National Girls & Women in Sports Day by honoring the memory of Connie Thorngren, who is considered the pioneer of Boise State women’s sports. Thorngren passed away on Oct. 1, 2017. ... Sophomore guard Riley Lupfer added to her single-season 3-point record with two more triples against the Lobos, bringing her season total to 85.
Rachel Roberts: 208-377-6422, @byrachelroberts