Fresno State senior guard Shauqunna Collins drives the ball past a New Mexico defender during Saturday’s conference game against the Lobos at Save Mart Center. (Khone Saysamongdy/The Collegian)
Thanks to its stout defense, the Fresno State women’s basketball team cruised to a 51-43 victory over New Mexico on Saturday afternoon in which the team sported green jerseys as part of Valley Pride Day at the Save Mart Center.
Head coach Jaime White credits the team’s discipline on the defensive end for holding New Mexico to 19 points over the first three quarters.
“I thought our press today was really good,” White said. “We did a good job pressuring the ball. We had our guards getting in their forwards face, and they were throwing the ball away. It was reassuring to know that we had Bego Faz Davalos in the backcourt if anyone got a fast break. I thought we played really smart when they broke our press. We caused them to have to force shots up on offense.”
After a slow start to the game, senior guard Shauqunna Collins helped spark a Bulldogs 14-6 run late in the first quarter that carried through the second period as they took a 22-12 lead into halftime. The Bulldogs held the Lobos to 12 points in the first half, the lowest point total for a Fresno State opponent this season.
After junior forward Toni Smith converted two quick layups to start off the second half, the Lobos quickly called a timeout to kill the momentum. New Mexico’s Cherise Beynon tried to close to gap with six points in the third quarter, but the Lobos did not have an answer for Faz Davalos as she went 6-of-6 from the free throw line to match the UNM guard.
Senior guard Alex Furr knocked down her only 3-pointer of the game to extend the Bulldogs’ lead to 37-18, and a free throw by Collins with 38 seconds left in the third quarter gave the ‘Dogs their largest lead of the game at 20 going into the fourth quarter.
Although New Mexico outscored Fresno State 24-13 in the fourth quarter, it was too late for the Lobos as their inefficiently earlier in the game caught up to them.
“Today felt like a tournament game,” Collins said. “We as a team felt like we had to come out and make a statement early. When we play the Fresno State brand of basketball, we’re always fine. We came out of halftime with the mindset to finish the game early.”
Faz Davalos lead the Bulldogs with 17 points, which was her team-leading 20th game scoring in double figures this season. She also added eight rebounds, six blocks and one steal and with her final block of the game, she tied her Mountain West record for blocks in a single season in conference games after posting 70 last season.
Collins scored in double figures for the second consecutive game with 14 points and Smith reached double figures for the 13th time in 14 games with 12 points and eight rebounds while also setting a career high in steals with four.
“I thought today’s game was a good challenge for us.” White said. “It had a Mountain West Tournament feeling to it. This was a big game for us going into the tournament. I felt like our kids really responded to their late scoring run. We kept pushing through the first. The second quarter we really got going, we had a good plan coming out of halftime, and the way we started the second half was huge.”
The Lobos were lead by forward Khadijah Shumpert, who led all scorers with 22 points to go along with nine rebounds.
The Bulldogs shot 32.7 percent (16-of-49) from the field and knocked down 16-of-21 (.762) from the free-throw line. The ‘Dogs held New Mexico to 31.6 percent (18-of-57) from the field and had a 15-9 advantage in bench scoring.