Fresno State guard Bree Farley drives the ball past UNLV’s Amie Callaway in the ‘Dogs’ quarterfinal victory over UNLV. Photo by Khlarissa Agee/The Collegian
LAS VEGAS–The Fresno State women’s basketball team (20-10, 13-5 Mountain West Conference) commenced its quest for back-to-back Mountain West titles with an 80-65 win over the UNLV Rebels (13-19, 9-9 MWC) in the quarterfinals of the conference tournament Tuesday afternoon at the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas.
This was the third contest between the two this season. The ‘Dogs also won each of the previous two meetings by an average of 17 points.
“We feel really fortunate and excited to survive and advance,” Fresno State head coach Raegan Pebley said. “This was a very tough first round matchup.”
Five Bulldogs registered double figures, including seniors Taylor Thompson and Bree Farley, who each received Mountain West honors.
Thompson, the Mountain West Co-Defensive Player of the Year and first-team selection, recorded six rebounds, five assists and three steals to go along with her 15 points.
“UNLV is a great team, they put everything at us,” Thompson said. “They were in zone [defense], they were in man [defense], so I think our team responded well to that. Our focus was there and I think that was key for this win today.”
Farley, a second-team conference selection, posted a team-high 17 points on 7 of 14 shooting including 3 of 5 from 3-point range.
The ‘Dogs started off the game with a fast-paced approach that enabled them to catch the Rebels off guard and jump out to a 24-7 lead in the first 10 minutes of the game. UNLV was not able to respond to the tempo, and that allowed Fresno State to cruise by.
“I love how we started the game,” Pebley said. “I think that helped a lot because it created a cushion which helped secure our lead.”
Junior guard Alex Sheedy also contributed off the bench. She sunk 4 of 9 shots for a total of 15 points. Her 6-of-6 performance from the free-throw line also helped fuel her double-digit game.
UNLV guard Danielle Miller scored a game-high 18 and the Rebels out rebounded the ‘Dogs 45 to 37, but ultimately it was not enough. The Rebels couldn’t get over the hump this season as they finished out the year .500 in league play.
“I thought we battled, it was just difficult to give up as many points as we did in the beginning,” UNLV head coach Kathy Olivier said. “Fresno was hot at shooting the 3-ball in transition.
“When a team shoots like that it’s hard to come back.”
The ‘Dogs keep their momentum going as they increase their win streak to six, their largest of the season. The momentum will be a critical factor for the ‘Dogs moving forward in the tournament.
“I think we are playing with a lot of momentum, more momentum than we’ve had all season,” Pebley said.
The ‘Dogs will continue their quest for consecutive conference championships on Friday at 2:30 p.m., when they will play in the semifinals of the Mountain West Tournament against Nevada.