LAS VEGAS — Alex Sheedy knocked down a 3 to give Fresno State the definite 36-34 lead with 2:06 left in the first half that it would not give for the remainder of the game.
And then she hit another one with 51 seconds to halftime. And nine minutes before that, Rosie Moult and Bree Farley found their rhythm behind the 3-point arc.
“Yeah, obviously it’s a great confidence booster for our team,” said Moult, who shot 4-of-6 from behind the 3-point arc in Fresno State’s 76-70 win over San Diego State Saturday night at the Thomas & Mack Center.
“We’re a great three‑point shooting team. When you’re hitting them early, it always helps, you know, the lead.”
Fresno State (24-8), which captured the Mountain West Conference championship and the league’s automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament, didn’t take many opportunities to shoot the 3 in its Mountain West tournament quarterfinal and semifinal wins.
But against the top-seeded Aztecs (26-6), shooting (and making) the 3-ball seemed to be the neutralizer to the fast starts that deflated and demoralized No. 9 Nevada and No. 5 New Mexico in the first two rounds.
San Diego State got off to a 7-0. Fresno State stayed in the game in the first half by making the 3-pointers it has fluidly knocked down in its offense that emphasizes half-court sets.
The Bulldogs knocked down five 3s to pull within 26-25 with 7:26 left in the first half.
Sheedy’s performance (she scored 18 against the Aztecs in the regular-season win) has been the common variable in Bulldogs’ two wins against San Diego State.
The sophomore All-Tournament selection scored 21 points this time around – 15 in the first half. Sheedy made 4-of-6 3s against San Diego State.
“I knew that I just had to step up for my team,” Sheedy said. “I knew that that’s what they needed me to do. And I knew I could do it, and so I did it.”
Fresno State made 9-of-22 3s (40.9 percent).
San Diego State finished the night making 6-of-23 (26.1 percent) from behind the arc.
Farley scored 13 points shooting 6-of-11 from the field and had two assists.
Both Farley and Sheedy – who will be returning next season as a senior and a junior, respectively – came through big for the Bulldogs, coach Raegan Pebley said.
“We knew that Bree and Alex Sheedy were going to have to be big in this game,” Pebley said.
“We used them as on‑ball screeners, really defend Ki‑Ki and Taylor. We were going to pop them instead of rolling them. Let them facilitate offense. They were going to have catch and shoot threes, get to attack off the dribble, or continue to attack and to handoffs and what we call at‑action.
“They knew coming into this game that we were going to have those opportunities. Kudos to them for taking advantage of it.”