Fresno State junior guard Shauqunna Collins (right) keeps possession of the ball during the ‘Dogs’ 64-53 loss to the New Mexico Lobos Wednesday night at Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas. (Darlene Wendels/The Collegian)
It was a physical game all the way to the final buzzer. Emotions were high, and the pressure was on. Each team had the same idea in mind: this game could not be lost.
But, as is the case in tournament play, there are no ties. Only one team can go on – especially to the championship game – and the team with the largest amount of points will do just that.
On Wednesday, the Fresno State women’s basketball team, whose season has been filled with firsts, added one more to its list: a first-ever loss in the Mountain West Tournament.
The 64-53 defeat to the New Mexico Lobos ended the Bulldogs’ season, but the team went out on top.
The game did not start off as a high-scoring affair. It took 1:30 for the first points to be made – free throws from Fresno State senior forward Alex Sheedy – and 2:31 for New Mexico to get on the board.
But despite scoring the first points, the Bulldogs did not make a field goal for the first 9:56 in the first half. Guard Raven Fox’s jumper made it 8-6. Afterward, the ‘Dogs and Lobos traded defensive jabs, and neither team got to the 20-point mark until 4:43 left in the first frame.
As a result, the ‘Dogs had double-digit turnovers (10) in the frame, put up only 23.8 percent shooting (5-for-21) and made more free throws (8) than field goals (5).
The second half proved to be a much different ballgame. The ‘Dogs were able to get within one of New Mexico at 37-36 after posting an 8-0 run nearly midway through the half.
“When it was 36-37, I felt like we were one possession away,” said Fresno State head coach Jaime White. “I felt like that multiple times this season. It’s one of those things we’ve got to work on. Obviously, it comes on the offensive end.”
The ‘Dogs were able to keep New Mexico from going on heavy runs, but were unable to capitalize on it offensively to build a large lead.
“We crawled back defensively, but I felt like offensively, we never really turned the corner,” White said. “We got some openings and we got some stuff to the rim, but I think it was just a little bit too late.”
The reported attendance of 3,188 was a pro-New Mexico crowd. Some of the Red Wave was in attendance, but the noise was in New Mexico’s favor.
“I don’t know that [playing there] was as intimidating as it was fun,” White said. “It’s just that we can’t hear each other a lot, whether it’s even them talking to each other or me kind of trying to call a play.”