Adrian Wiggins starts new era of women’s basketball

The ‘Dogs start the season off with their annual Red and White Hoops Night on Oct. 25

Last season, the Bulldogs continued to show promise by winning the Western Athletic Conference championship, but the No. 5 North Carolina Tar Heels cut their season short in the first round of the NCAA tournament.

In order to defend their title as WAC champions, the ‘Dogs will have to find a way to replace the winningest senior class in program history. Furthermore, The ‘Dogs lose senior Jaleesa Ross, Fresno State’s leading scorer in school history, men’s or women’s.

Although the experience loss is significant, Fresno State does return a pair of starters in junior Rosie Moult and sophomore Taylor Thompson. Veronica Wilson and Blakely Goldberg are the only seniors on this year’s team and a roster jam packed with youth sits on coach Adrian Wiggins’ desk.

Moult molded into an all-around player for the ‘Dogs last year, finishing third on the team in points scored per game. She also led the team with 202 rebounds and 15 blocks last year.

Fresno State also will have last year’s WAC tournament hero Bree Farley on the floor. Farley’s buzzer-beater in the WAC title game sunk rival Louisiana Tech 78-76, avenging a heartbreaking loss to the Lady Techsters in 2010 on the same stage.

There is also some promise for the future with the so many new faces coming into the program. The Bulldogs bring in five incoming freshman to the program.

Notable faces, and names, are San Joaquin Memorial graduate Robin Draper and Hanford graduate Madison Parrish. Draper averaged 18.9 points and 7.9 rebounds during her senior season while Parrish had 14.2 points 8 assists and 4.4 steals a game. Parrish name should sound familiar with her sister Amy Parrish roaming the Fresno State sideline along Wiggins.

Another notable on the radar is freshman Raven Fox who graduated from Deer Valley High School in Antioch, Calif. Saidah Allen, a Piedmont High School graduate, rounds out the freshman class. Fox and Allen averaged 18 and 22.3 points a game during their senior seasons, respectively.

Fresno State followed traditional suit, bringing in an Australian product in Alex Sheedy. She is the eighth player to play for the ‘Dogs coming from Australia, and was chosen to be a member in both the Under 19 Australian Gems and the Under 20 Victorian State squad. Her under-20 team won the Australian Junior Championship Moe, Victoria, Australia.

A small handful of other Bulldogs played in at least 19 games last year and continue to hone their skills with added experience. Sophomore Alex Furr played in 26 games a season ago, and junior Jeanna Furst played in 19 contests.

Washington State transfer Kiki Moore can contribute immediately with a team lacking elite on-court collegiate experience. She can finally step onto the court after sitting out last season. Moore was named to the first-team Pacific-10 All-Freshman team and also was selected to the Pacific-10 All-Defensive team. She set a Washington State record for having nine straight double-digit scoring games as a freshman and also led the conference in steals.

Fresno State already has bolstered its roster in anticipation of its first season competing in the Mountain West Conference just around the corner with the additions of two new transfers. Junior Rachael Pecota is transferring from Northwestern and sophomore Ta’Nitra Byrd is transferring from UNLV. They won’t be able to contribute this season because of NCAA transfer restrictions, but will be able to contribute at the forward position for the 2012-2013 season when the ‘Dogs jump the conference ship.

Pecota started in eight of 12 games last season averaging 13.8 points per game with 6.2 rebounds a game as well as 23 steals and 11 blocks. Byrd was a reserve player as a freshman but recorded 108 rebounds in her limited play.

With these players coming in next season, the ‘Dogs may be able to make losing their powerful senior class a thought of the past.

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