Women’s basketball falls short to Cal Poly

Late-game heroics from Franka Wittenberg weren’t enough on Friday night, as the Bulldogs fell short to the Cal Poly Mustangs 48-47 at the Save Mart Center.

Wittenberg scored a game-high 17 points during the game, including a layup with seven seconds remaining to give the ‘Dogs a 1-point lead. However, Cal Poly’s Annika Shah scored an open layup with only three seconds remaining to give the Mustangs the lead following a defensive mistake.

Early in the season, the Bulldogs have repeatedly struggled in the opening minutes of games. 

This trend continued for Fresno State as Yanina Todorova scored with their first possession, but the team failed to score in the ensuing four minutes following the tough layup from Todorova. The Bulldogs struggled to get their offense going, turning the ball over eight times in the opening period.

“We just didn’t take care of the ball,” said Fresno State Head Coach Jaime White. “I thought we were passing the ball all over the place.”

Todorova kept the Bulldogs in the game early, contributing to 8 of the team’s 10 points with 6 points and an assist as the Bulldogs trailed 12-10 after the first quarter.

The second quarter was a mirror image of the first. Amaya West nailed a corner 3-pointer in Fresno State’s first possession of the quarter, giving them a 1 point lead. 

The Bulldogs then went scoreless for the following six minutes.

Amiee Book ended the drought as she faked a shot to send the Mustang defender flying past her. She then side-stepped into an open 3-pointer from the corner with four minutes remaining.

However, the Bulldogs’ shooting woes continued, as they failed to score again until the closing minutes of the quarter. Despite scoring only 8 points in the second quarter, Fresno State kept the game close going into the half, down 22-18.

In the third quarter, the Bulldogs introduced a full-court press to get themselves back into the game. The defensive scheme was implemented with varying levels of success. 

In Fresno State’s first attempt at pressing high up the court, Cal Poly broke through the pressure with ease, getting into the front-court with a numbers advantage.

The full-court press did make initiating offense for the Mustangs more difficult, as they turned the ball over on three occasions in the third quarter, but the Bulldogs weren’t able to capitalize, with Cal Poly extending its lead to 5 points at the end of the third quarter.

Fresno State continued to battle in the fourth quarter as their shots began to fall. Junior Guard Daylee Dunn made two 3-pointers coming off the bench, forcing Cal Poly into a timeout.

“We made some plays down the stretch,” White said. “Daylee Dunn came in and hit some threes which really helped.”

Todorova made a 3-pointer of her own with 40 seconds remaining in the game to bring the Bulldogs within 1 point.

Cal Poly ran down the clock on the offensive end, but Fresno State got a vital stop, regaining possession with 11 seconds remaining.

Coming out of the timeout Wittenberg received the ball, immediately drove to the basket and euro-stepped past a defender to make a tough layup, putting the Bulldogs ahead 47-46 with 7.2 seconds left.

“I thought Franka [Wittenberg] had a great game. All around she was really physical. She attacked the basket and came up with some really big plays down the stretch,” White said.

However, Cal Poly was left with enough time for some late-game heroics of its own. Shah received the ball on the inbound and drove down the baseline, converting a reverse layup to regain the lead for the Mustangs, 48-47 with 3.7 seconds remaining.

The Bulldogs had enough time to draw up one more play. Attempting to get the ball to the hot hand, Fresno State went to Wittenberg again on the inbound play.

Wittenberg got a good look at the basket on a mid-range jumper, but the shot fell short as the Bulldogs lost a nail-biting game 48-47.

Fresno State will close out its six-game homestand on Tuesday, Nov. 22 when it hosts UC Merced at the Save Mart Center.

Yanina Todorova looks to pass the ball in the game against Cal Poly on Nov. 18, 2022. (Blake Wolf/ The Collegian)
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