Right before Wednesday night’s Mountain West game at Wyoming, Fresno State announced that sophomore starting forward Breanne Knishka will miss the rest of the season with a left knee injury.
Without one of their best defenders, and one of just two returning starters on a young roster, things only got worse for the Bulldogs as they suffered a 70-48 blowout loss to the Cowgirls in Laramie, Wyo.
Fresno State’s Tory Jacobs hit a layup to cut the deficit to 10-8 in the first quarter, but that’s as close as things would get as the Cowgirls (11-3, 3-0) took off on a 14-0 scoring run and never looked back.
The Cowgirls offense was hot, making 7 of 8 from the field during the run, while Fresno State (8-6, 1-2) fell cold. The Bulldogs went just 2 of 15 as their deficit ballooned to as much as 21 before halftime.
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Wyoming senior Liv Roberts led the charge, making 10 of her game-high 24 points in the opening period. She also had 12 rebounds for a double-double.
“Liv Roberts is probably right now the best player in the league. She hurts you in so many ways,” said Bulldogs coach Jaime White.
After halftime, Fresno State tried to repair the damage through zone defense and was able to cut Wyoming’s lead to 10 late in the third quarter.
However, the Cowgirls found their answer beyond the arc, where they made 5 of 12 in the second half including a pair each from Natalie Baker and Taylor Rusk to fend off the Bulldogs.
Jacobs led Fresno State with a career-high 19 points on 7-of-13 shooting, including 3 of 6 from long range. She was the only Bulldog to finish in double figures. Junior center Bego Faz Davalos was hurt by early foul trouble and scored just eight points and two rebounds in 17 minutes of action. Senior forward Kendra Martin started in place for Knishka, while freshmen reserves Saraya Smith and Kristina Cavey also saw time on the floor.
“I think we’re deep enough,” White said of filling Knishka’s absence, but admitted her team also needed to be more aggressive. “We’re going to need other people to step up and preferably play defense, because that’s where we missed Bree most. I thought our freshmen came off the bench and played well, but we as a team are going to have to defend better.”
Knishka was injured during a practice in Fresno, though the team didn’t find out the severity of the injury until they had arrived in Wyoming.
Fresno State, which has lost three of its previous five games, will return to Save Mart Center on Saturday for a league game against San Jose State. Tipoff is scheduled for 2 p.m.
FRESNO STATE VS. SAN JOSE STATE
- Saturday: 2 p.m. at Save Mart Center
- Records: Bulldogs 8-6, 1-2 Mountain West; Spartans 4-10, 1-1 (Lost 70-67 in overtime to Colorado State on Wednesday)
- Series/last meeting: Fresno State leads 54-21; Spartans won 66-64 on Feb. 3, 2016 at home.
- Webcast/radio: Mountain West Network (themw.com)/KFPT AM (790)