There is one element – in this final, critical part of the regular season – that the Fresno State women’s basketball team does not seem to lack: confidence.
The Bulldogs shot 27.7 percent from the field in their 49-42 win Wednesday night over Colorado State, yet were never in danger of relinquishing the lead they had grabbed early in the first half.
And in this season, at this point – with third-place Wyoming lurking a game behind in the Mountain West Conference standings – it was enough for Fresno State, whose confidence hasn’t seemed to falter in its last three fluctuating shooting performances.
“I think there were a lot of defensive stops that really created some great momentum for us,” Fresno State coach Raegan Pebley said.
“I think even though we didn’t have a great shooting percentage night, I felt like there was confidence coming from our team on the offensive end. When they did hit shots to begin the game, they stayed confident and kept taking the shots that they knew were good shots.”
Confidence is what propelled senior Rosie Moult to continue taking open 3-point shots (she made a game-best 4-of-9 3s against the Rams) after Fresno State’s 4-of-28 showing against Nevada (in which Moult went 2-of-11).
Moult’s 14 points led the Bulldogs, who pulled away in the first half because of their perimeter shooting.
Confidence is what spearheaded a comfortable 27-14 lead at the half for the Bulldogs despite it being, statistically, their worst offensive outing of the season.
And it had to be confidence that Fresno State exhibited as it mounted a 21-point lead on the legs of its stifling defense when the arms of its shaky offense seemed to struggle.
Fresno State got defensive stops against the Rams – the Bulldogs pressed and trapped and tightly hovered around Rams ballhandlers who wilted in certain possessions and missed shots that allowed Fresno State to maintain its lead late into the game.
Colorado State’s 42 points were the fewest the Bulldogs have given up this season. Fresno State held the Rams to 14 points on 25 percent shooting in the first half.
“That’s good defense,” said Thompson, who added 11 points, three assists and three steals for the Bulldogs. “The numbers don’t lie on that. I felt we had good energy, and we were focused on what we were doing.
“We might not have had the greatest shooting night, but we still won. And that gives us confidence going into Air Force,” Thompson added.
Colorado State finished the game on a 16-5 scoring run – as the Bulldogs alternated their reserves – with Sam Martin leading the way with 16 points.
Fourteen of the Bulldogs’ rebounds were on the offensive end, allowing them to take more shots than the Rams during Fresno State’s second to last home game of the season – a time of the year where “you just have to grind out wins,” Pebley said.
“We’re the only team in the conference that’s beaten every single team in our conference. We’re second in our conference,” Pebley said.
“We’re in a pretty good situation. There’s no reason for us to feel like we shouldn’t be confident.”