Aug 14, 2020
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Aly Gamez (22) celebrates with her teammates after shooting the game winning layup at the buzzer against Colorado State Rams at the Save Mart Center on Wednesday, Jan. 22, 2020. (Armando Carreno/The Collegian)

Best start in years for ‘Dogs

The Fresno State women’s basketball team has been on a hot streak over the past month.

With a win against Boise State on Saturday 85-80, the Bulldogs moved to 16-4 on the season and 9-0 in conference, putting themselves at first in the Mountain West (MW).

The ‘Dogs eight wins in the past nine games have come against Boise State, Colorado State, Wyoming, San Diego State (twice), New Mexico, San Jose State and UC Merced, with their lone loss coming against Santa Clara.

Bulldog basketball has been on a roll, due in large part to the play of junior Maddi Utti and freshman sisters Hanna and Haley Cavinder. Utti is averaging 17.1 ppg this season, and Haley and Hanna are averaging 16.4 and 15.6 ppg respectively.

The Bulldogs have been on a scoring tear, averaging 77.8 points per game over a nine-game span. This season the ‘Dogs are 15-0 when scoring more than 70 points, but they’ve shown they can win at any moment.

Fresno State rallied back twice in the fourth quarter against San Jose State and New Mexico to win two close games in overtime. In those two games, the Bulldogs outscored their opponents 78-45 in the fourth quarter and overtime.

The ‘Dogs have also been able to find ways to win without hitting the 70-point mark.

On Jan. 15, the Bulldogs were caught in a tough contest against San Diego State. 

Down eight with seven minutes left in the third quarter, Hanna injected life into Fresno State, hitting shots and getting other teammates involved. The ‘Dogs ended up winning 65-60.

The second time was on Jan. 22 when Fresno State was struggling to shoot the ball against Colorado State at home. 

When their star trio was in a slump, the ‘Dogs got a huge boost from freshman Kendyll Kinzer and junior Aly Gamez.

In the first half, Kinzer scored nine points off of 3-pointers to energize Fresno State. In the second half, Colorado State tied the game up at 53, and Gamez’s late-game heroics saved the day with a game-winning floater off the glass.

To sum up the Bulldogs’ identity, Gamez said one thing.

“I think we’re tough. We don’t stop fighting. I think that’s how we’ve been all year long,” Gamez said. “We’re not going to back down to anybody. No matter if we’re up 10 or down 16, we’re going to keep fighting.”

Fresno State is not backing down, and they’re breaking records in the process.

As the ‘Dogs were routing the Wyoming Cowgirls, Utti made history on a layup in the third quarter, scoring 1,000 career points and became the 25th player in program history to join the 1,000-point club.

Utti was emotional at the press conference, and said she never saw it coming.

“Coming in freshman year I didn’t know what to expect,” Utti said. “I had no expectations really and then freshman year, it really opened my eyes that I could be a big part of this program.”

Hanna was another player for Fresno State that made history. On Saturday, she had her seventh 20-point game of the season, passing Jaleesa Ross for the freshman record of 20-point games in a season.

Bulldogs head coach Jaime White said the team’s defense has vastly improved this year.

“Well I think with the addition of our young, quicker kids and our transfers – Haley and Hanna – they’ve been able to come in and add more speed, which is causing more problems with ball pressure for the other teams,” White said. “I think we’re creating more turnovers, and we’re getting out and transitioning off of those turnovers.”

Currently sitting in first, it’s very likely that this Fresno State team can finish undefeated in conference play and lock up the No. 1 seed going into the MW Tournament in March.

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