MORAGA — It wasn’t the way the Fresno State women’s basketball team wanted to end its season.
A 83-64 loss to the Saint Mary’s Gaels at the McKeon Pavilion is one thing, but the direction the game went from the beginning was frustrating for Fresno State head coach Jaime White.
With Saint Mary’s prior game at home — the WNIT First Round against the Hawaii Rainbow Wahine — ending with 57 fouls, all eyes were on the penalty total heading into Monday night’s matchup.
By the end of the contest, 42 fouls were called (27 of which belonged to the Bulldogs), two ‘Dogs fouled out (Alex Furr and Raven Fox), and every Fresno State player who logged more than five minutes had at least one penalty.
“We got in foul trouble early, and we knew we would,” White said. “But we didn’t realize it would make as big a difference as it did.”
Things started off hot for Saint Mary’s, as the Gaels scored the first six points, forcing White to call a timeout and regroup her team. The ‘Dogs were able to come together afterward, and worked their way up to a tie at 17.
Down 21-17, the a potential Bulldogs rally was cut short, when Saint Mary’s guard Alia McCoy was injured after colliding with Fresno State guard Moriah Faulk. Play stopped as McCoy was attended to, and when it resumed, the Gaels never looked back.
“Defensively, we kind of missed our call,” White said. “I felt like we couldn’t do anything early that we had planned. That’s not always a good sign. … We tried to shuffle defenses, and it seemed like every time we changed defenses, they changed offenses.”
Frustration continued to mount for the ‘Dogs as the first half ended. With 3:12 to go in the frame, Fresno State center Toni Smith fought Saint Mary’s physical defense in the paint, but the play ended with the Gaels getting possession of the ball. White, upset at the no-call, was visibly upset with one of the referees, earning a technical foul.
“The technical fouls were out of frustration,” she said. “In the first half, I could feel us slipping away. So I thought if we could get our kids fired up and get back on top of things, that would change the wind a little bit. That didn’t work.
“We just didn’t respond the way we needed to some of the physicality. If you don’t respond to it, you usually get frustrated. And that’s when the fouls come.”
Fox, a native of nearby Walnut Creek, California, was the only Bulldog starter in double digits with 22 points. She shot 9-of-11 from the field and 2-of-3 from behind the arc. Faulk came off the bench and added 13 points while making the most 3-pointers in the entire game (3).
“I think that the energy I got from my family helped me today,” Fox said. “I just wanted to go out there and give it my all.”
The Gaels had four players in double digits. Sydney, Australia, native Lauren Nicholson tallied 21 points, Hannah Kaser had 15, and Carli Rosenthal and Stella Beck had 12. Beck added 10 rebounds to earn a double-double.