Fresno State forward Alex Sheedy goes for a jumpshot in the Bulldogs’ 80-65 victory over the UNLV Rebels. Sheedy was one of five Bulldogs in double figures. Photo by Khlarissa Agee/The Collegian
Going into the Mountain West Tournament, the Fresno State women’s basketball team had one thing on its mind:
And it’s not just about continuing a winning streak against the No. 7 UNLV Rebels. Instead, it was about exhibiting control over its opponent, especially in shooting.
Coming into the contest, the Bulldogs were third in the conference in scoring margin (winning by an average of 6.7 points) and were fifth in field-goal percentage (40.9), which helped them ride a 5-game winning streak.
The Bulldogs shot 44.3 percent in the game compared with UNLV’s 30.8. Five Fresno State players were in double figures.
The last time that happened was in 2013’s season finale against the Rebels.
In fact, Farley scored 10 points in the first 6:30 of the contest. After that, the Bulldogs showed variety in their gameplay.
Taylor Thompson finished the game with 15 points, scoring seven in the first half and eight in the second.
Two other Bulldogs scored 15, Alex Sheedy and Moriah Faulk. Guard Alex Furr had 11 points and was perfect from the field.
What about fouls?
Both UNLV and Fresno State were aggressive on the court in the contest. The teams combined for 48 free-throw attempts, which tied the Mountain West Tournament quarterfinals record.
The first half saw UNLV hit the line 14 times, while the Bulldogs had zero free-throw attempts. Fresno State committed 10 personal fouls, double the amount that UNLV tallied.
Out of the 14 trips to the line, the Rebels made 11 free throws. Those points kept them close to Fresno State in the first half. The Bulldogs led by as much as 17 (at the 11:31 mark), before UNLV started making its free throws.
Afterward, the Rebels outscored the Bulldogs 19-12.
In the second stanza, the tables turned. Although Fresno State again committed 10 penalties, UNLV came out of the tunnel more aggressive with 13 fouls.
That gave the Bulldogs 20 free-throw attempts – Faulk, Sheedy and Thompson had six attempts each – and the team made 16.
Defense was variable
The Rebels may have lost the contest, but their rebounding presence made a statement.
UNLV outrebounded Fresno State 45-37, and Rejane Verin shouldered the team’s presence in the paint. She had 13 boards, and the next highest on the team had a little less than half of that.
That would not faze the Bulldogs. A defensive variety was present, as Thompson, Sheedy and Jacinta Vandenberg had six boards apiece. Farley and Faulk had four, and Furr had three.
However, the Bulldogs forced 18 UNLV turnovers that turned into 19 points. Vandenberg’s team-high three blocks and Thompson’s three steals helped that cause.
Fresno State also flexed its 3-point shooting defense muscle (it holds its opponents to 29.2 percent on average, No. 1 in the conference) and held the Rebels to 20 percent from behind the arc. Mia Bell and Danielle Miller were the only two UNLV players who made those shots.
Clearly, that the Bulldogs had players with their own niche: Farley with shooting, Furr from behind the arc and Thompson with free throws. That showed something that was seen in the game as a whole: all hands were on deck for the Bulldogs.
It did not take one person to lead the team into the semifinals.