Aug 15, 2020
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Utti speaks during the post-game press conference after their loss to Boise State at the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas, Nevada on Wednesday, March. 4, 2020. (Armando Carreno/The Collegian)

Sin City Robbery

With the 2020 Air Force Reserves Mountain West trophy on the line, the Fresno State women’s basketball team had one more chance to not let it slip away. On Wednesday night, the Bulldogs trailed 78-75 in the final four seconds of overtime at the Thomas and Mack Center.

When Boise State’s center Mallory McGwire inbounded the ball, Hanna Cavinder picked it off and got fouled. At the free-throw line, Hanna Cavinder made one and intentionally missed the second.

Fresno State needed to get the rebound to tie it, and junior Aly Gamez snatched the ball in the air. Gamez dribbled the ball to the left baseline and threw up a wild shot that went in, but was waved off by the referee.

Before the shot had gone in, a referee had ruled that the Bulldogs had called a timeout, however, Fresno State had no timeouts remaining. The result was two technical free throws for the Boise State Broncos as they defeated the Fresno State Bulldogs, 80-76, winning their fourth straight Mountain West Championship.

Bulldogs’ head coach Jaime White said she still didn’t know who called the timeout.

“I’m not sure. I’m not sure,” White said. “Still a little bit of blur to me.”

In the press conference, both coaches had heard different explanations from the referees.

“Yeah, you know, they talked about an audible and that if the official hears it [a timeout] then they have to call it, I think,” White said.

On the other side, Broncos’ head coach Gordy Presnell said the official was positive they heard something.

“The official said that she positively heard and saw the timeout, and they [Fresno State] didn’t have any. She was 100 percent sure,” Presnell said. “When they say 100 percent sure, then they’re 100 percent sure.”

Haley and Hanna Cavinder, along with Gamez led Fresno State in scoring with 17 points apiece, and Bulldogs’ forward Maddi Utti added 16 points and grabbed 7 rebounds.

Braydey Hodgins and Jade Loville led Boise State in scoring with 20 points apiece, and Broncos’ forward A’Shanti Coleman added 16 points on 7-of-11 shooting from the field.

It was a game of back-and-forth runs early, and the Bulldogs trailed by as many as nine points in the beginning of the fourth quarter. Fresno State rallied back, making 53.3 percent (8-of-15) of their shots in the fourth quarter.

The ‘Dogs were in trouble in the fourth after Gamez missed a game-tying free throw with 14 seconds left. After fouling McGwire to extend the clock, the Bulldogs were down three with 13.6 seconds left.

Gamez had the ball at the top of the key and passed it to Haley Cavinder who curled off a screen. Haley shot the 3-pointer from the left-wing and drained it to take the game to overtime.

In the extra period, Fresno State struggled, making only 14.3 percent (1-of-7) of their shots from the field. The Bulldogs only scored five points and three were from free throws.

Loville led the Broncos in overtime, scoring five points on 50 percent (2-of-4) shooting from the field. After the game, Loville said it was great to have the opportunity to come off the bench and step up for the team.

“Getting the trust from my coach and teammates is everything. I just wanted to execute for them and step up and let them know that I’m ready,” Loville said. “And they’ve just provided me with so much opportunity.”

Despite the Bulldogs coming back to force overtime, the Broncos didn’t lose their composure and guard Ellie Woerner said everyone rallied around each other.

“I think the whole, like, fourth quarter, down the stretch, we just kept saying, we’ve got this, we’ve got this,” Woerner said. “We had confidence in each other, and we were composed, and we’ve been in those situations before.”

After a historic regular season, Fresno State (25-7) lost their chance of securing an automatic bid into the NCAA tournament but secured the conference’s automatic bid into the Women’s National Invitation Tournament.

At the end of the championship tournament, Haley Cavinder and Utti received championship all-tournament team selections for the Bulldogs.

Coleman was crowned the most valuable player of the tournament for the Broncos, and guard Jayde Christopher received an all-tournament team selection.

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