Against the Broncos, there was a moment where the play by the Fresno State women’s basketball team reached a level that forced coach Raegan Pebley to break character during the game.
During a timeout at one point in the second half, Pebley told her huddled Bulldogs, who were leading all throughout the second half, “Gosh, you guys are fun to watch.”
“They’re really fun to watch when they are playing hard defensively. You can feel this chemistry from them… They know where (they’re) at, and they know how to play to set each other up for success.”
Fresno State played fast on defense – pressuring Boise State to commit 20 turnovers – and balanced on offense – with three players in double figures – in its 70-57 win over Boise State in Mountain West Conference play Wednesday night at the Save Mart Center.
The winning victory extended Fresno State’s home streak to 19 games. The Bulldogs (12-6, 4-1 MWC) are 8-0 at home this season.
Ki-Ki Moore made 8-of-12 shots from the field and finished with a game-high 20 points, five assists and seven steals. Rosie Moult scored 15 and Taylor Thompson added 12 in a game that saw Fresno State lead all throughout the second half.
After leading only 31-27 at the half, the Bulldogs’ defense went on a second-half surge. Fresno State forced 18 steals pressing the Broncos and playing up-tempo defense.
Fresno State’s 18 steals almost matched its season-high 20 against Cal-Maritime on Nov. 12.
“We play well together with the up-tempo,” Thompson said. “It’s fun when we get steals and attack their defense when they’re not ready.”
The second half was when Thompson said the “defense stepped it up.”
“We started executing our press a lot better,” Thompson said. ”We played great man defense.”
Boise State (9-8, 2-2 MWC) held an early 4-0 lead in the first half off a jumper from Lauren Lenhardt, one of the primary reasons Fresno State chose to increase its pressure on defense.
Lenhardt, the Broncos’ leading scorer, averaging 15.2 points per game, finished the night with 12 points.
“They had such a great post player in Lauren Lenhardt that we felt that we couldn’t sit in the half-court game with her all night and let her be able to get touches whenever she wanted,” Pebley said.
On offense, the Bulldogs stretched the court through their guards.
Thompson, who for a slight second, drove the lane, then quickly passed the ball to an open Moult for a 3 in the second half after luring a defender inside.
And Moore, who gave the go-ahead pass to Jacinta Vandenberg for the open basket in the paint, giving Fresno State a 53-36 lead with 10:22 to play.
On the Bulldogs’ following score, Moore, with Thompson posted on the outside, pass faked the ball and drove the lane for a layup.
Moore and Thompson each had five assists.
“I was getting a lot of open shots purely from the guards attacking,” said Moult, who in the first half shot 2-of-8 from the field. “I liked the looks I was getting. They just weren’t dropping, unfortunately.”
A fast-break layup off a half-court pass from Thompson to Moore gave Fresno State a 61-41 lead, its largest of the game, with 6:11 to play.
Fresno State faces Colorado State on the road on Sunday. The Bulldogs’ final 6-of-11 conference games will be played at home.