Ross’ unselfish play leads to win

Fresno State takes down last-place Hawaii, will play San Jose State at home Thursday

Mike Howells/The Collegian

The senior guard from Pinole, Calif., had an open lane and room to roam after a second-half steal Monday night against Hawaii, but instead of driving the ball to the basket for a contested layup, Jaleesa Ross chose to dish it out to a teammate.

Unfortunately for the Bulldogs, the shot didn’t connect, but Ross’ decision to pass exemplifies her growth as a complete player.

Ross needed to score 21 points Monday night to become Fresno State’s all-time leading scorer in the history of the women’s basketball program, but fell just nine points shy of eclipsing Yvette Roberts’ 22-year-old record of 1,778 points in a career.

“I really wasn’t necessarily thinking about the record,” Ross said.

Despite not reaching the monumental achievement, Ross had an effective night finishing with 12 points, six assists, five rebounds and three steals, and with a collective effort from her teammates, Fresno State pulled away in the second half to crush the visiting Hawaii Rainbow Wahine 79-57 at the Save Mart Center.

“I thought we shared the ball real well,” head coach Adrian Wiggins said. “I thought we did a good job of really learning when we played on offense and you saw the lead kind of expand [in the second half].”

Forward Hayley Munro had a game-high 18 points and true freshman Alex Furr came off the bench to score a career-high 12 points while guard Rosie Moult added 11 points on the night, connecting on three-of-five from beyond the arc.

“It was a great team effort,” Munro said. “We been working really hard in practice and helping each other out. We did well.”

Although the ‘Dogs had a balanced attack on the offensive side, the spotlight was on Ross and her quest for Roberts’ record. Ross’ numbers were skewed a bit on Monday night because coaches played her occasionally at point guard in the absence of starter Taylor Thompson, who sat out of the Western Athletic Conference match resting a knee injury.

“She did a good job of that,” Wiggins said. “Jaleesa probably didn’t get the same type of shot opportunities that she normally gets, which can kind of mess with your rhythm. But as the game went on she was getting better and better with that.”

Ross shot just 4-of-14 from the field, but made her biggest impact when she was filling in for Thompson, distributing to her teammates.
“I know I had to play a lot of point guard today,” Ross said. “So, I just had the mindset of a point guard and trying to get my teammates open looks, and trying to get some creating going on the court.”

Wiggins said Thompson is likely doubtful for tomorrow’s home contest against in-state rival San Jose State, but with the Spartans boasting the worst overall record in the WAC at 2-16, Ross will have a good chance of breaking the all-time scoring record for the Bulldogs at home.

“I would love to do it at home,” Ross said.

Ross needs only nine points against the Spartans to become the most prolific scorer in Fresno State history. Ross has scored nine or fewer points in only four games this season.

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