Women’s basketball falls short to Bakersfield

Amaya West reaches for a rebound in the game against Fresno Pacific. (Marcos Acosta/ The Collegian)

The Fresno State women’s basketball team fell short in a 56-53 loss against California State University, Bakersfield on Friday night at the Save Mart Center.

On a night when the ‘Dogs struggled to create meaningful offensive possessions early in the game, Yanina Todorova carried the load for the Bulldogs, recording a career-high 26 points.

In the first half, Fresno State was unable to find a shooting rhythm, missing its first six field goal attempts. However, the Bulldogs kept themselves in the game with their high-pressing defense, making the game difficult for the Roadrunners.

The Bulldogs scored their first basket through a steal and a transition layup by Todorova.

The offensive struggles continued, with the ‘Dogs shooting 26% from the field in the first half. However, the Bulldogs still found themselves leading, 23-17, heading into halftime, in large part because of their resilient defensive effort.

“I think our press bothered them,” said Fresno State Head Coach Jamie White. “I thought we had good pressure. We didn’t rebound well in the first quarter, but in the second quarter, we did a better job rebounding. Our kids are tough.”

The Roadrunners responded quickly, coming out of the halftime break with a 7-2 run to open the third quarter.

White quickly called a timeout to kill the momentum, but after the timeout, Bakersfield continued to put the pressure on Fresno State, resulting in back-to-back Bulldog turnovers.

The Roadrunners shot 67% from beyond the arc in the third quarter. Roadrunner Shaunae Brown had the hot hand in the third quarter, and Fresno State struggled to find an answer to her shooting.

“That third quarter really hurt us,” White said. “That No. 10 went off, so it’s really frustrating to let one player hurt you like that.”

After the quick start from Bakersfield, Fresno State battled to get back into the game and tied it 29-29, but any time the ‘Dogs got going, Brown had an answer. 

In the final three minutes of the quarter, Brown converted on three shots from beyond the arc. With 47 seconds remaining in the period, Brown then hit a corner 3 to put Bakersfield ahead 45-34, giving the Roadrunners their largest lead of the game and silencing the Red Wave heading into the fourth quarter.

Fresno State responded with an early run of its own to start the fourth quarter. In the Bulldogs’ first possession, Amaya West found Thea Mikkelsen for a corner 3. The ‘Dogs’ early, high-energy defense forced Bakersfield into sloppy possessions, and West capitalized.

Following a strong first half performance, Todorova found her rhythm again and forced her way into the paint for a layup to bring the ‘Dogs within 4 points with around nine minutes still remaining in the game. Todorova got the Red Wave back on their feet and forced Bakersfield into an early timeout.

“We put some pressure on and got some steals to hit that 3 in the corner, [and] Yanina had that pass back to Sydney [Dethman] on the block. Just a couple scores and a couple of stops in a row and we were good to go,” White said.

Fresno continued to make stops coming out of the timeout with its full-court press. Bulldog Amiee Book forced the Roadrunners into a turnover at half court and threw the ball ahead to Todorova, who was fouled at the rim. 

Todorova converted both free throws to tie the game 45-45 with 7:39 remaining, capping off an electric 11-0 run for the ‘Dogs.

“Yanina was really our offensive answer,” White said. “Yanina had a great game, so kudos to her.”

The game came down to the wire as both teams traded baskets for the remainder of the quarter. Down by 3 points with 18 seconds remaining, the Bulldogs had possession and an opportunity to tie the game.

In those final seconds, Fresno was able to put up three shots from beyond the arc, but none of them found the bottom of the net for the Bulldogs, who fell short to Bakersfield 56-53.

“We got chances to tie the game up towards the end and sometimes the ball doesn’t fall. Tonight it seemed like that,” White said.

Fresno State will be back in action on Nov. 15 at 6 p.m. when it takes on UC Riverside at the Save Mart Center.

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