The Fresno State women's basketball team survived a brief scare when point guard Taylor Thompson rolled her ankle in the second half Saturday, but its new road nightmares continued anyway.
Despite leading much of the way and by as many as 14 points Saturday afternoon, Fresno State lost 68-66 at San Jose State after surrendering a layup with 1.3 seconds remaining. Riana Byrd hit the winning bucket off a broken play, jumping to receive a desperation entry pass down low before converting against the defense of Bulldogs forward Bree Farley.
The Bulldogs (13-9, 7-4 Mountain West) dropped their third straight road game and fell to 1-3 in games decided by three points or fewer.
San Jose State (9-13, 3-8) snapped a four-game losing streak.
"She made an amazing catch to get the ball over Bree and stayed strong and finished a tough shot," Bulldogs coach Raegan Pebley said. "They were able to get it done. We didn't do a good job closing things out."
The Bulldogs led most of the day until Thompson rolled her ankle with 8:11 remaining. The Spartans went on a 10-1 run and took a 61-59 lead with 5 minutes left on a basket by Byrd.
Thompson re-entered with 3:52 left and the Bulldogs were able to tie the score twice down the stretch. Robin Draper hit two free throws that made it 66-66 with 30 seconds remaining. San Jose State, however, never trailed once it gained the lead.
Thompson finished with 15 points and five assists but was limited to 31 minutes.
Pebley said Thompson should be fine for Wednesday's game against Nevada, but expressed some disappointment in the outings turned in by others in the Fresno State starting lineup. Farley tied Thompson with a team-high 15 points but hit 5 of 16 shots, including 1 of 6 beyond the 3-point arc.
Center Jacinta Vandenberg, coming off back-to-back double-digit scoring performances, went scoreless, committed four turnovers and fouled out in 12 minutes of action. The 6-foot-6 center did not attempt a shot and seemed to have trouble keeping up with San Jose State's small lineup and up-tempo pace.
In addition, Fresno State played its fifth straight game without forward Alex Sheedy, out with a lower-leg injury and her return date still unclear. Sheedy's absence also coincides with Fresno State's struggles away from the Save Mart Center.
The Bulldogs won their first three conference road games when Sheedy was healthy but have lost three with her sidelined, including previous defeats at Nevada and Wyoming.
"When you're down a starter, you need your other starters to perform consistently," Pebley said. "We didn't get that tonight. Do we feel like we're a better team with (Sheedy)? Yes. Are we a team that can still win without her, yes? But when you go on the road, defense and rebounding are absolute keys.
"And losing Taylor for that stretch, that really helped (San Jose) get back in it."
San Jose State's Rebecca Woodberry led all scorers with 22 points. Ta'Rea Cunnigan added 18, and Byrd had 11.
Fresno State sophomore Toni Smith came off the bench to provide her first double-double with career-highs of 14 points and 12 rebounds.