Fresno State senior guard Robin Draper (22) fights off a block from Colorado State’s Victoria Wells during the ‘Dogs’ 53-49 victory over the Rams Jan. 31 at the Save Mart Center. (Darlene Wendels/The Collegian)
For the first time since joining the Mountain West Conference, the Fresno State women’s basketball team beat the Colorado State Rams at home.
The 53-49 win is the Bulldogs’ 13th straight overall, 17th consecutive at home, and gives Fresno State a two-game lead over the Mountain West rivals.
And it was an unconventional victory. The ‘Dogs only led for 3:51 and shot a season-low 24.2 percent.
But they were on top when it counted the most.
“I feel a lot better about where we thought we were,” Fresno State head coach Jaime White said, “and we obviously defined that that defense and pressure is in our pocket.
“You like to see your team accomplish the things we work on in practice, and I’m feeling good about execution. We talked to the team yesterday about how this team does whatever it takes, and I thought [Saturday] was a really good example of that.”
The rest of the game, however, did not go Fresno State’s way. The Bulldogs were down quickly at the start of the game and did not score a point in the first three minutes. Colorado State’s lead kept climbing until it reached its apex: 11 points with 2:44 left in the first half.
The ‘Dogs struggled in 3-point shooting, going 0-10 in the first half. That improved in the second stanza: Fresno State shot 33 percent from behind the arc.
In fact, gameplay in general improved for Fresno State after the break. The ‘Dogs shot 11 percent better from the field and stymied the Rams’ offense.
“We regrouped at halftime, and I just thought we came out with defensive intensity in the second half,” White said. “Defense was the focus, and that was really where we ended up winning the game.”
Senior guard Alex Furr sunk the ‘Dogs’ first 3 of the contest with 16:51 left in the game. A little more than two minutes later, senior forward Alex Sheedy shot her only field goal, a 3-pointer, that tied the game.
Guard Raven Fox, making her first start in over a month, stepped up in the final minutes. With less than eight minutes left in the game, she scored five straight points – a 3-pointer followed by a fast-break layup – to retie the game at 41.
Moments later, Fox stole the ball from Colorado State’s Elin Gustavsson and transitioned for a layup. She replicated the move against Rams guard A.J. Newton, and Fresno State had a 3-point lead with 3:26 left in the game.
“It was team defense. Everyone was guarding her man, and that pressure helps everyone,” Fox said.
It was not over, though. Colorado State threatened to retie the game with less than a minute left after a 6-0 run. But with the Rams needing to stop the clock, the ‘Dogs were able to draw fouls and make the crucial free throws in order to keep the game at bay.
The win brings Fresno State to 9-0 in conference play, while the loss places Colorado State at 7-2.
After a two-game homestand, the ‘Dogs will head north to San Jose to visit the San Jose State Spartans on Wednesday.