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Women’s Basketball: Bulldogs soar past Air Force

By | January 31, 2013 | Front page, Sports
Photo by Roe Borunda / The Collegian

Ki-Ki Moore (24) dribbles the ball towards the post in the Bulldogs’ 60-47 Mountain West Conference win over Air Force Wednesday night at the Save Mart Center. Photo by Roe Borunda / The Collegian

The numbers were exorbitant.

Against Air Force Wednesday night at the Save Mart center, Ki-Ki Moore had 19 points, three rebounds, three assists and four steals, and the Bulldogs forced 20 turnovers – in the first half.

Fresno State took top flight in the first half of its 60-47 Mountain West Conference win over the Falcons, mounting a 35-16 advantage at halftime that paved way to its reserves getting playing time in league play.

The Bulldogs (14-6, 6-1 MWC) remain undefeated at home for the season, and have won 20 straight at the Save Mart Center.

I think it represents a lot,” said Moore, who is part of a roster that has not lost at home since Dec. 4, 2011. “We love playing at home and protect our home court no matter who we play.

Moore, and rest of the Bulldogs starting lineup that was without Rosie Moult, exposed Air Force’s defense early on, forcing turnovers – 20 in the first half, 30 in total – and finding timely opportunities to score off of them.

“I think my teammates got me open setting a lot of screens,” Moore said. “In the second half I kind of looked more for them.”

For the Falcons, the turnovers were costly.

Jacinta Vandenberg, starting in Moult’s place, smacked a Katie Hilbig pass intended for Missy Byrd toward Moore for a fast break layup early in the first half. The Bulldogs scored 18 first-half points off of turnovers in a game the Bulldogs led all throughout.

Fresno State found creases – on the break, off of steals, in the paint – and shot 24-of-55 from the field (including 55.6 percent in the first half).

Moore led the way in the first half, getting baskets off rapid play on offense, and helped power a Fresno State defense that pressured Air Force’s offense to make ill-fated decisions. Fresno State’s 30 forced turnovers tied its season high.

Moore didn’t score any points in the second half, attempting only three shots, but by that point, the Bulldogs had reserves Raven Fox, Toni Smith and Robin Draper manning the floor with a comfortable lead.

Draper scored 12 points playing 30 minutes off the bench, Taylor Thompson added 10 and Fox, Smith and Vandenberg logged in 47 combined minutes in a win coach Raegan Pebley said was “a great opportunity to get some players who haven’t gotten a lot of extended minutes some experience on the floor.”

“That’s an opportunity that doesn’t often come around in the month of February,” Pebley said.

Air Force outscored Fresno State 31-25 in the second half, but had never really challenged for the lead, which the Bulldogs at one point held by 23 points in the second half.

Alicia Leipprandt led Air Force (2-17, 1-5 MWC) with 15 points. Byrd added 14 for the Falcons.

Fresno State remains at the top of the Mountain West standings. Its 20-game win streak at home is the fourth-longest active home win streak in the nation.

“20 wins here at home, that’s something as a program that the alumni, the department, our fans and definitely our current members of the team should be proud of,” Pebley said. “Not a lot of people can say that. There are a lot of elements that go into a streak like that.

“(It was) definitely something we didn’t talk about going into the game, but after the game I just wanted to make sure the girls knew that that was a great accomplishment.”

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