Defense provided the answer for the Fresno State women’s basketball team Wednesday, allowing the Bulldogs to take the momentum of a three-game winning streak into a weekend meeting with a Top 25 team from the Pacific-12 Conference.
The Bulldogs (4-2) beat the USF 61-48 in a nonconference game at Save Mart Center, breaking free from a tie late in the second half.
USF (4-3) trailed most of the game, but junior guard Kalyn Simon – who made 4 of 7 from beyond the 3-point arc for the night – helped shoot the Dons into a 37-37 tie with 1:21 to go in the third quarter.
Any time you hold a team to 48 points, you’re doing something right, and I think our kids have fun playing defense. I think it’s important to set that standard initially, and then the offense will come.” Fresno State coach Jaime White
Fresno State quickly quelled the threat, with a high-intensity zone defense forcing three turnovers, including a shot-clock violation. Bego Faz Davalos also had a pair of blocks that were part of an 11-0 run that carried over into the fourth quarter.
Candice White hit a pair of 3-pointers, the first to give the Bulldogs a 40-37 lead and the second to make it 46-37 with 8:15 to go. Faz Davalos capped it with a layup with 6:53 remaining. Tory Jacobs also hit a jumper in the run and added two 3-pointers in the final 5:35 while scoring a career-high 17 points on 7-of-11 shooting to go with five rebounds.
White scored 14 and had nine rebounds, one shy of her first career double-double.
It feels pretty good. I think today we were fired up from winning the tournament at LMU and then we lost the last game here against CSUN, so I think we really wanted this homecourt win against a really good USF team.
Fresno State redshirt sophomore Tory Jacobs, on Wednesday’s victory over USF
USF missed all seven of its 3-point attempts in the fourth, after going 5 for 8 through three quarters. The Dons made just 4 of 15 (.267) overall from the field in the fourth. Simon led USF with 20 points.
“I wasn’t too worried because we were playing such good defense, and coming down we just needed to be a little patient,” said coach Jaime White, whose Bulldogs play at No. 13 Washington at 2 p.m. Sunday. “I always think it starts with defense.”
Fresno State got a boost from each of Faz Davalos’ seven blocks. She also scored 16 points and grabbed 11 rebounds, with her 20th career double-double tying Janee Young (1996-98) for fourth on the Bulldogs’ career list.
“Bego is just such a presence in there,” White said of her 6-foot-3 junior center. “Every kid that drives in, I think they worry about their shot.
“It’s vital because obviously as the ball gets closer to the basket, the percentage of it going in goes up, and so I think it helps our guards put a little more pressure on the ball, knowing that if we have a drive that there’s somebody behind us.”
FRESNO STATE AT NO. 13 WASHINGTON
- When: 2 p.m. Sunday at Alaska Airlines Arena in Seattle
- Records: Bulldogs 4-2, Huskies 6-1
- Webcast: Pac-12 Network (pac-12.com/live)
- Series/last meeting: Washington leads 6-1. Huskies won 89-79 on Nov. 20, 2015, in Fresno.