The Fresno State bench cheers on the Bulldogs during the 79-73 victory over San Francisco in the first round of the WNIT Thursday night at home. (Paul Schlesinger/The Collegian)
The Fresno State women’s basketball team’s season gets to live another day.
The Bulldogs beat the University of San Francisco Dons 79-73 to advance in the Women’s National Invitation Tournament (WNIT) Tuesday night at Save Mart Center.
Senior guard Alex Furr led the ‘Dogs with 18 points off 5-of-6 from the field and free-throw line and a perfect 3-of-3 from behind the arc. Alex Sheedy, Toni Smith and Moriah Faulk also contributed double-digit points in the contest.
Things got off to a quick start for Fresno State, as the ‘Dogs jumped to a 7-2 lead, forcing Dons head coach Jennifer Azzi to call her first timeout. Afterward, the Dons went on a 13-2 run to take the lead, one they held for nearly 10 minutes.
The Bulldogs closed in on the lead and tied the game with 5:29 left in the first half. However, with both teams exchanging buckets, the ‘Dogs went into the locker room down two points.
Things turned in different directions for both teams in the second stanza. Fresno State took advantage of heavy defense from the Dons, as San Francisco committed 18 fouls in the half. The ‘Dogs shot 75.9 percent from the free-throw line (22-of-29).
“Free throws are not something we’ve struggled with this season,” Azzi said. “Our overall percentage is in the high-70s, and sometimes the ball just doesn’t go in. But that is an area that we have taken a lot of pride in. I wish those shots had gone in.”
“[The Dons] do a really good job at switching up their defenses, so I promised myself I wouldn’t be too creative. That never works,” White said. “So we really to one thing, and we saw a couple openings to get it inside. Toni made a couple of nice moves. We got fouls inside the post and off the drive.”
That included a 6-of-6 performance from Faulk at the line that came in the final two minutes of the game – a feat that she claimed was the result of a missed free throw during the Mountain West Tournament.
“I airballed a free throw against New Mexico, and that was very traumatizing,” she said. “So I never wanted to miss a free throw again.”
Turnovers went in Fresno State’s favor. The ‘Dogs forced the Dons to give the ball up 38 times, which turned into 22 points.
San Francisco guard Taj Winston led her team with 21 points. Forward Taylor Proctor nearly had a double-double with 12 points and nine rebounds.
With Fresno State’s win, the number of Mountain West women’s basketball teams playing postseason basketball is now down to three.
The Colorado State Rams lost to the Northern Colorado Bears – White’s previous school – Tuesday night in the first round of the WNIT.
The New Mexico Lobos advanced in the Women’s Basketball Invitational, while the Boise State Broncos have yet to play their first game of the NCAA Tournament.
“I’m excited for the Bears,” White said. “It was a matchup that’s kind of a rivalry over there, so that’s always fun. The Mountain West is our conference, and we always want our conference teams to do well. In that one, I’d probably pick the Bears, though.”
Up next for the Bulldogs is a match against either St. Mary’s or Hawaii in the second round.