Bulldogs win home opener, trounce NAIA Cal Maritime

The Fresno State women’s basketball team won its home opener at the Save Mart Center Monday night against Cal Maritime, 82-43, in a contest that saw a first-half lead almost double in the final 20 minutes of play.

Fresno State’s win was also a game in which all active players on the Bulldogs roster saw playing time.

“It was good for us to be able to play a game like this – especially this early where we could get not just our top six, seven in our rotation, but also the entire team,” said first-year Bulldogs coach Raegan Pebley, who notched her first regular season win as the team’s head coach.

Seven minutes into regulation and faced with the only tie of the game at 12, the Bulldogs went on to score 10 unanswered points to create a lead they would not relinquish.

Jeana Furst made two free throws moments after Bree Farley, with an expiring shot clock looming, cut through traffic in the interior for a layup to put the Bulldogs up 22-12 early in the first half.

Farley made four of six 3-point shots and scored a career-high 21 points. Ki-Ki Moore finished with 13 points, and Raven Fox added 10 points and six rebounds.

“Seeing players like Jeana and Robin (Draper) and Raven and Toni Smith to be able to play significant amount of minutes will really benefit us in the future,” Pebley said.

Fresno State led Cal Maritime, an NAIA program, 50-28 at the half.

“We wanted to just try and be disruptive to what they did,” Pebley said. “We wanted to make them play a little bit faster than they wanted to. We felt like Cal Maritime was going to come in and try and force a slower-paced game. We don’t want to play that.”

Fresno State explored several different rotations in its nonconference win — shifting Farley to the forward and both guard positions, and using “2-bigs” forward-center rotations that included having 6-foot Ta Nitra Byrd and 6-foot-6 Jacinta Vandenberg on the floor at the same time.

“We’ve got some bigs that have some potential,” Pebley said. “I think Jacinta showed different elements of her game that are going to continue to develop — like her scoring. She was a great passer this game. She found some good open shots. Bree benefited from a few of those.

“T-Byrd was great in the Stanford game. She’s got so much potential. She’s probably only at about 50 percent of where she could be at.”

Vandenberg passed to an open Farley for a 3-pointer to start the second half. With 14 minutes left in the game, Vandenberg overpowered Cal Maritime’s Tatjana Pitts for possesion of the ball and passed it to Moore for a layup.

Alex Sheedy hit a 3-pointer at the 11:26 mark in the second half to extend Fresno State’s lead to 73-37.

Taylor Thompson’s four steals led the team. Overall, the Bulldogs created 20 steals and made 46.8 percent of their field goals.

The Bulldogs were without senior captain Rosie Moult, who sat out due to a minor practice injury, Pebley said.

“If this was a game where we felt that we really needed her, she could’ve played,” Pebley said. “We just didn’t feel like this was something that we needed to rush.”

Fresno State hosts Grambling State on Nov. 20. The team begins a four-game homestand on Nov. 30 — its longest of the season — against Washington State.