As the Fresno State women’s basketball team hoped to send its seniors off with a win against San Diego State University on Monday, all it was able to find was heartbreak, as its fourth quarter comeback fell short in a 59-58 loss.
The Bulldogs (18-10, 11-6 Mountain West) have been erratic in their last four outings. They have mostly played from behind going into the fourth quarter in which they have either come from behind to win or fallen short. Monday was one of those nights that the Bulldogs fell short.
The ‘Dogs were once again led by the play of senior Candice White, who scored 12 points on five of 15 shooting and sophomore Aly Gamez, who added 18 points to go along with her 3 steals.
The Aztecs’ (11-17, 6-11 MW) defense did an outstanding job of keeping the MW-leading scorer White and the Bulldogs’ offense as a whole non-existent, holding it to 12 points in the first quarter and eight points in second.
The second half was much of the same for the ‘Dogs, as the Aztecs came out of the gates strong. At one point, San Diego State built its lead to as high as 12 with the Bulldogs’ offense continuing to stay stagnant.
However, the Bulldogs fought their way back to bring the deficit to five with Gamez scoring five quick points by knocking down a jump shot and a 3-pointer.
The Aztecs added another two points, bringing the lead back to seven at the end of the third quarter. As the quarter was winding down the Bulldogs were able to trim the lead to just three with 2:06 remaining in the game thanks to a jumper from Maddi Utti, with the Aztecs up 55-52.
Critical action came in the final minute and a half for the ‘Dogs, as a number of sequences played out in the ‘Dogs’ favor, along with a few that ultimately led the ‘Dogs to defeat.
As White drove to the basket, she was called for traveling, marking a crucial turnover for the ‘Dogs, and leading to an Aztec layup, bringing the lead up to five with 1:13 left in the game.
On the next possession, sophomore Bree Delaney was able to get to the free-throw line, but missed both attempts. Despite the misses, White was able to corral the rebound twice and find an open Gamez for another 3-pointer, bringing the lead to two with 37.8 seconds to go.
A chance at a comeback seemed lost as an ill-advised foul was called on the Bulldogs with seven seconds on the shot clock and fewer than 15 seconds to go, allowing the Aztecs to once again make it a four-point game.
In the following possession, White was able to sink a prayer of a shot from behind the arc to cut the lead to one with 5.8 seconds on the clock. And with a foul on the inbound, the Aztecs went to the line once more.
Luckily for the ‘Dogs, the Aztecs’ Mallory Adams missed her two free throws, giving the Bulldogs a chance at the buzzer as the ball was inbounded to Utti for a buzzer-beating shot. But it rattled in and out of the basket, giving the Bulldogs their tenth loss of the season.
The loss for the ‘Dogs gives them an 11-4 record at home, as they prepare to play their final game of the season on Thursday against San Jose State (5-23, 4-13 MW).