They have been saying it all season and the Fresno State women’s basketball team proved it again Saturday: Play good defense and the offense will come.
The Bulldogs used a tight high-zone to rattle Nevada into 16 first-half turnovers and that set the pace for a 65-43 win at the Save Mart Center.
“It’s really easy when you can let your defense be your offense,” said lead assistant Mandi Carver, stepping in for first-year head coach Jaime White, who missed the afternoon game because of a death in the family.
“It crushes the other team. They’re unable to get an offensive possession, they start to get a little less aggressive every time out and I think we’re able to continue to put that pressure on and finish at a high rate close to the basket.”
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The Bulldogs (12-3, 4-0 Mountain West) broke loose on a 12-0 run with the help of seven of those Wolf Pack turnovers and never looked back, taking a 23-6 lead with 9:03 left in the half.
Alex Sheedy and Toni Smith exchanged layups in the post, and starting guards Alex Furr, Shauqunna Collins and Robin Draper and reserves Stephanie Rovetti and Raven Fox spurred the high-tempo transition offense with their tight defense.
Sheedy and Smith had combined for 19 points by halftime, with Sheedy scoring 11 of what would be a game-high 17. Smith finished with 10 points.
Fresno State scored 14 fast-break points, 30 off turnovers and 36 in the paint.
“That just goes to show how quick and tough our guards are,” Carver said. “You can watch it on film and try to practice and prepare for their quickness and toughness, but when you get hit with it, it’s a whole other level. I don’t think Nevada was ready for that.”
Collins had seven points, five steals and five assists. Draper pulled down a team-best six rebounds.
Off the bench, freshman center Bego Faz Davalos added to the Bulldogs’ post power with 14 points to go with six blocks, five rebounds, four steals and three assists.
“It feels great,” the 6-foot-3 Davalos said of her role. “You watch first, then you adjust to (the game flow).”
Fresno State went on a 14-6 run to start the second half and led by as many as 26 points.
Mimi Mungedi, a 6-8 center, had 14 points and nine rebounds and added to her career school record total with five blocks for Nevada (6-8, 2-1).
The Bulldogs, winners of eight in a row, are the only unbeaten team remaining in the Mountain West after Boise State’s 64-59 loss earlier to Wyoming.
The Wolf Pack and Broncos (10-4, 2-1) are tied for third in the conference behind Colorado State at 11-4, 3-1.
Carver on White
“I want to thank the Fresno State administration, our staff and our fans,” Carver said of the tough times off the court for the program. “We had great support through a difficult situation and I think our team rallied.
“A lot of times, coaches preach family, and this time Coach White was family first. That’s evident by this situation. She put her family first and we understand that and support her. The girls did a great job of being open-minded, adjusting and playing this one for Coach White.”