It was by no means flawless, but the Fresno State women’s basketball team pulled out a 58-46 win over San Jose State on Wednesday night to remain the top team in the Mountain West.
Turnovers and poor long-range shooting plagued both teams, but the Bulldogs (13-3, 5-0) broke through for a 14-0 run midway into the first half.
With go-to forward Alex Sheedy double- and triple-covered , Fresno State opted to open up the floor and eventually found Toni Smith and Bego Faz Davalos for easy inside baskets.
“I thought we did a good job getting inside and getting through a physical game,” said Bulldogs coach Jaime White, back from a one-game absence because of a family issue.
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“Toni did a great job. She had, what I think, is the best first half we’ve seen.”
Smith, a 6-foot junior from Del City, Okla, displayed her versatility, knocking down midrange jumpers and powering her way inside to score 10 of her 14 points before halftime. She matched her career high, which she first set in a Bulldogs loss against the Spartans last season.
Davalos used her height to own the glass and speed to get open in transition.
With just over 8 minutes left in the half, the redshirt freshman converted a three-point play after getting fouled on a layup to put the Bulldogs up 15. She finished with 11 points, 12 rebounds and six blocks in 22 minutes off the bench.
The Bulldogs outscored the Spartans 32-16 in the key, helping overcome 22 turnovers (San Jose State had 20). Fresno shot hit 21.4% from the field compared to the Bulldogs’ 39.7% (4 of 19 on 3-pointers).
White also praised guards Robin Draper, Shaqunna Collins and Alex Furr, who combined for 10 assists.
“Our guards are finding (Bego and Toni) in transition,” White said. “That’s when good things happen.”
Collins’ steal at halfcourt in the closing seconds of the first half led to a layup at the buzzer that gave Fresno State a 31-15 lead — the fewest points the Bulldogs had allowed to an opponent in a half this season.
Three minutes into the second half, Sheedy and Robin Draper had hit back-to-back 3-pointers and Stephanie Rovetti a layup to give Fresno State its largest lead, 42-22. Sheedy would finish with 15 points and 12 rebounds.
The Spartans (8-8, 2-3) cut into the deficit via a 7-0 run and things got chippy as Ta’Rea Cunnigan, who led San Jose State with a game-high 16 points, was called for flagrant foul on Moriah Faulk. Faulk responded and was whistled for a technical.
Tensions calmed and the Bulldogs picked up their ninth win in a row overall.
“The wins have kept us at a grounded level where we know we have to work hard to continue what we’re doing,” Sheedy said