The Fresno State women’s basketball team pulled out a 66-60 win over UNLV in Wednesday night’s Mountain West Tournament semifinal game at the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas.
The victory lifts the Bulldogs into their third MW Championship game since joining the conference four years ago.
The Bulldogs led by just two points with 27 seconds left in the ballgame, but seniors Moriah Faulk and Alex Furr came through with a pair of clutch free throws each to seal the win.
“Really good game, start to finish,” Fresno State head coach Jaime White said. “You know, I thought we did a really good job starting the game and then starting that second half. We made a little run and got the score up where we felt pretty comfortable.
“UNLV is a great team. Brooke Johnson, the Gonzalezes, Rohde, really hard to guard, long, athletic, I thought they did a really great job.”
“I thought we did a good job inside, rebounding especially,” White said. “To outrebound a team like that, we knew we were going to have to rebound. We could have taken care of the ball better. Really proud of our girls. All year we’ve had to adjust and adapt during games, and we continued to do that.”
Shooting inconsistencies plagued both teams early, but Fresno State eventually found its footing after a Brittany Aikens’ 3-pointer as time expired in the first quarter that would ignite a 13-0 run to put the ‘Dogs up 24-12 in the second quarter.
UNLV went on a run of its own to cut Fresno State’s lead to 29-23 with just over three minutes to go in the first half after a 3-point basket from Dylan Gonzalez. But the Rebels’ momentum came to a halt there as the Bulldogs closed the half by forcing three turnovers that allowed them to go on a 7-0 run to take a 36-23 halftime lead.
Fresno State got its lead up to 17 before UNLV answered with five unanswered points as the ‘Dogs went 3½ minutes without a point. Senior Shauqunna Collins was then inserted into the lineup, and her presence proved to energize the Bulldogs as the 5-foot-4 guard generated some fastbreak opportunities, which ballooned the team’s lead to 49-29 late in the third quarter.
In the fourth, the Bulldogs’ offense lacked efficiency early, going nearly seven minutes without a field goal as UNLV went on a 13-1 run to trim the lead to eight. The Rebels kept trying to chip away at the lead, but the Bulldogs managed to hold them off, answering with plays of their own down the stretch.
Four players recorded double figures led by senior forward Toni Smith’s double-double of 18 points and 12 rebounds. Sophomore center and Mountain West Defensive Player of the Year Bego Faz Davalos put up 13, and Aikens and Faulk added 10 each.
The Bulldogs will face the No. 1 seed and the No. 22 team in the country Colorado State in the finals on Friday at noon in Vegas.