Fresno State’s Brittany Aikens (3) and Toni Smith (42) chase after San Diego State’s Mckynzie Fort during Wednesday’s 54-49 conference win over the Aztecs at Save Mart Center. (Darlene Wendels/The Collegian)
The San Diego State Aztecs gave the Fresno State women’s basketball team all it could handle Wednesday night at Save Mart Center, but the Bulldogs were able to put together a late push to prevail in the final moments for a 54-49 Mountain West Conference victory.
In a fourth quarter that featured four lead changes and a tie, freshman guard Breanne Knishka drained a 3-pointer to give the ‘Dogs a 50-49 lead with just over a minute left.
Knishka’s clutch heave shifted the momentum in the Bulldogs’ favor and allowed them to close the game on a 7-0 run.
“Time was ticking, and we really wanted to focus on getting the ball inside obviously, but [Knishka] was able to step up and knock it down when we needed it,” said Fresno State second-year head coach Jaime White. “I think that gave us a little bit of confidence. We were a little shaky until then.”
After the first quarter, the game was tied at 15 apiece, but at halftime, it was a slightly different story as the Aztecs built a 30-26 lead on the ‘Dogs (10-7, 6-0 MW) behind their up-tempo offensive approach.
Coming out of the half, the fast-paced Aztecs kept rolling and got up as much as three possessions in the third period before the Bulldogs started climbing back into the game.
“We didn’t play our best tonight, but we grinded it out,” White said. “San Diego State (6-11, 1-5 MW) is a lot better than their record is. They did a good job tonight and came in with a good game plan.”
With about three minutes to go in the third period, sophomore center Bego Faz Davalos hit a layup that helped spark a 9-0 run. Teammate Brittany Aikens capped the run with 3-pointer, giving the ‘Dogs a 41-38 advantage entering the fourth quarter.
Faz Davalos picked up her eighth double-double of the season with a game-best 15 points and 11 rebounds.
“My teammates did a great job of passing the ball to me in the post, so I think that was huge for us,” she said. “[San Diego State] was really aggressive, but we just finished strong.”
Senior forward Toni Smith also got in double figures for the Bulldogs with 14 points on 5-of-7 shooting from the field, including 4-of-4 from the free-throw line.
The Bulldogs will put their six-game win streak on the line Saturday when they host Air Force.
“When we win, we just feel like we can keep doing this, we can keep this going,” Smith said. “We just kind of feed off each other after a while. We’re 6-0 in conference now, but we’re still motivated and that drives us, so we’re running off that.”