Ross vaults into the record books

Mike Howells/The Collegian

It took Jaleesa Ross only 15-and-a-half minutes to surpass a 22-year-old number in Fresno State’s women’s basketball history book.

Coming into last night’s game against San Jose State averaging 17 points per game, Ross sat just nine points shy of Yvette Roberts’ all-time scoring record set in 1987.

With Roberts looking on from six rows behind the Bulldog bench, Ross shook off two errant three-point attempts by hitting her next four from the field and eclipsed the 1,778-point mark. The bucket at the 4:22 mark in the first half also put Fresno State 18 points ahead of the Spartans, who opened the season 0-16.

“It’s an awesome feeling,” Ross said. “I’ll get to kind of really enjoy it once I’m done playing here. But it was great to enjoy it with my team and to have them out there to celebrate it with me.”

Roberts, following the game during a mid-court celebration, presented Ross with the game ball. But immediately following Ross’ record-breaking bucket, she let her teammates do much of the celebrating.

“It’s exciting to be a part of something that big,” point guard Emma Andrews said. “I think I was more excited than she was. I was definitely fist pumping the air when that shot went in. I have a lot of respect for [Jaleesa] and what she’s accomplished.”

Ross finished with a game-high 18 points, helping her team win its third straight game heading into a three-game road stretch that includes a Feb. 5 game at first-place Louisiana Tech.

Head coach Adrian Wiggins’ team has dropped its last two games against Louisiana Tech by a total of four points dating back to last season. But head coach Adrian Wiggins said his team will take the road trip one game at a team, and his team is well seasoned in these situations.

“We’re playing three teams that all play very well at home,” Wiggins said. “We have very big goals … this trip won’t determine the season ultimately I don’t think, but it’s definitely a big part of it.”

Despite Ross’ monumental record-setting night, there is another milestone the senior is creeping up on, one she is more proud of than the scoring mark.

Ross now is just five steals shy of breaking Wendy Martell’s 24-year old steals record of 224.

“Definitely [I’m most proud of] the steals … Defense is big for me because it took me a while to kind of get it down at this level. I’ll definitely be a lot more proud of that.”

Ross and the Bulldog defense was in full force Thursday night, holding the Spartans to just 12 points in the first half, 21 points in the second half on 12-of-37 shooting. Led by Ross’ four steals, San Jose State scored just 33 points, a season-low for a Bulldog opponent.

Much of Ross’ 1,788 career points have come from beyond the arc, where she holds the Fresno State school record for 3-point field goal percentage (41 percent) and sits in third place for the record of all-time Western Athletic Conference 3-point field goals made with 354.

The Pinole, Calif., native has a career average of 15 points per game through 119 games. She recorded career highs 33 points and 11 rebounds against Boston College her junior season and has a season-high of 29 points in a loss to Southern California.

But through all the accolades and recognitions, Ross is the first person to shrug off her milestone, deflecting credit every way but toward herself.

“My teammates are the record,” Ross said. “I’ve never really been the type of do-it-by-myself scorer. My teammates have done great finding me in open places, getting me open and over the past four years this entire time we’ve always had a team that looks to pass first.”

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