Fresno State’s window for a first-round bye at the Mountain West Conference Tournament appears to be closing.
The Bulldogs fell 66-57 on Saturday afternoon at New Mexico, dropping to sixth in the standings, a game-and-a-half back of fifth-place Boise State (18-7, 8-6) with three games to play. The top five teams earn a bye into the tournament quarterfinals.
Fresno State (14-12, 7-8), down 13 at halftime, took off on a 10-0 run to start the third quarter and had a 46-43 lead after a pair of finishes from junior center Bego Faz Davalos to open the fourth.
The Bulldogs’ only lead would last just 2:05 as the Lobos (15-11, 10-5) reeled off seven points in a row before sealing a regular-season series sweep at the foul line. (New Mexico beat the Bulldogs 80-54 in the Dec. 29 conference opener in Fresno.)
New Mexico’s Alex Lapeyrolerie hit a jumper to make it a one-point game and senior center Richelle van der Kiejl put the Lobos back in front with a layup. Junior Jayda Bovero capped the 7-0 run with a 3-pointer from the elbow. It was a nine-point game with 3:28 to go.
New Mexico muscled Fresno State off the glass, outrebounding the Bulldogs 54-34.
The Lobos were led by junior guard Cherise Beynon, who finished with 15 points, 15 rebounds and 10 assists for her second triple-double in three games. She had the first for the program since 1979 in a Feb. 8 win over Air Force. Beynon scored eight points in the fourth quarter. Van der Keijl had 15 points and eight boards.
Fresno State sophomore point guard Candice White scored a game-high 20 points, her fourth 20-point game this season. Faz Davalos finished just shy of a double-double with nine points and nine rebounds and had four blocks.
Freshman Kristina Cavey made her first career start in place of redshirt sophomore guard Tory Jacobs, who was serving a one-game suspension for a flagrant foul in the Bulldogs’ previous game. Cavey finished with seven points on 3-of-9 shooting, with two rebounds and eight assists.
Bulldogs freshman center Katelin Noyer had nine points and seven rebounds in 23 minutes off the bench.
Fresno State will return to Save Mart Center this week for its final two home games of the regular season, hosting San Diego State on Wednesday and Boise State on Feb. 28.
FRESNO STATE VS. SAN DIEGO STATE
- Wednesday: 7 p.m. at Save Mart Center
- Records: Bulldogs 14-12, 7-8 Mountain West; Aztecs 9-15, 4-9 (pending Saturday game at UNLV)
- Series/last meeting: San Diego State leads 27-18. Bulldogs won 59-51 on Feb. 4 in San Diego.
- Webcast: Mountain West Network (themw.com)
New Mexico 66, Fresno State 57
Fresno State (14-12, 7-8 Mountain West): Faz Davalos 9, White 20, Volk 3, Martin 6, Cavey 7, Noyer 9, Smith 3. Totals: 23-70 (9-24). FT: 2-4.
New Mexico (15-11, 10-5): Beynon 15, Lapeyrolerie 15, van der Kiejl 15, Bryan 9, Keller 9, Bovero 3. Totals: 24-63 (7-19). FT: 11-16.
3-pointers: Fresno State 9 (White 4), New Mexico 7 (Lapeyrolerie 3, Bryan 3). Rebounds: Fresno State 34 (Faz Davalos 9), New Mexico 54 (Beynon 15). Assists: Fresno State 18 (Cavey 8), New Mexico 15 (Beynon 10). Fouls: Fresno State 15, New Mexico 8.