Fresno State’s women’s basketball team has steamrolled its way to the top of the Mountain West Conference under the leadership of first-year coach Jaime White.
At 13-3 overall and 5-0 in the league, the Bulldogs are off to one of the best starts in program history and on a nine-game winning streak, no doubt to the dismay of preseason skeptics who picked Fresno State to finish fourth.
But the Bulldogs will have another serious test at 1 p.m. Saturday at Wyoming.
The Equality State has been anything but for the Bulldogs, who are 0-8 record on the Cowgirls’ homecourt.
“The road is always a challenge,” said White, whose team’s only losses have come away from Save Mart Center — at USC, Cal State Bakersfield and George Washington.
“We’ve got to make sure we’re aware of the stresses the road puts on you. That we’re doing everything we can so in the end we’re putting it together when we play.”
Wyoming is sub-.500 (7-8, 2-3) this season, but has battled even in defeat.
Other than a 96-60 rout over San Jose State, a team the Bulldogs beat 58-46 on Wednesday, four of the Cowgirls’ five Mountain West matchups have been decided by five points or fewer. Wyoming’s three conference losses have all been by three points — 57-54 at San Diego State and 58-55 at Colorado State and UNLV. The other win was a 64-59 victory at Boise State, giving the Cowgirls a split against the second- and third-best teams in the league.
Colorado State is 12-4 and 4-1 and the Broncos 11-4 and 3-1.
Junior point guard Marquelle Dent and senior forward Kayla Woodward are averaging a combined 30.6 points per game in the Mountain West to lead Wyoming.
The Bulldogs, paced by senior forward Alex Sheedy’s 17.3 scoring average and conference-leading five double-doubles, will test their talents for the first time against one of the better teams in the Mountain West.
The Cowgirls are fourth in scoring offense (69.1 ppg), third in defense (59.9), third in field-goal percentage defense (.378) and first in assist-to-turnover ratio (1.3).
Fresno State has the league’s best 3-point defense, allowing opponents to convert just 27% (69-249), and is second in steals (10.7) and blocks (4.6).
“We have to be (ready), right? It’s time,” said White, who returns to Laramie, where she spent three seasons (2003-06) as an assistant under Cowgirls coach Joe Legarski, before taking the top job at Northern Colorado.
“I think we’ve played some good teams — don’t get me wrong — but I do think now these teams on the road are a little bit tougher. I do think it’s time to test ourselves and our only focus is the next game and hopefully we can meet those challenges.”