One by one, players on the Fresno State women’s basketball team found their rhythm Wednesday night.
Toni Smith dominated the glass, Alex Furr delivered from the perimeter, Alex Sheedy worked the paint and Raven Fox brought energy off the bench with her drives down the lane along with a few fast breaks to fuel a 57-50 win over San Diego State.
The Bulldogs (16-3, 8-0 Mountain West) came out sputtering as starting point guard Shauqunna Collins missed her first four layups and the Aztecs jumped to an 8-6 lead.
Smith helped reverse the momentum, registering a massive block on a driving Khristina Hunter that ignited an eight-point swing for the Bulldogs, with Smith knocking down back-to-back layups in that span.
Fox used her speed to beat the Aztecs (6-13, 3-5) inside twice and added a 3-pointer as the shot clock expired with just over 3 minutes left in the half while scoring seven of her 14 points before the break.
The senior finished 5 of 5 from the field and was 4 of 5 at the free throw line while playing 26 minutes.
“I feel like my job is always to bring energy and aggressiveness and that’s what I try to do every game,” Fox said.
The Bulldogs outscored the Aztecs 26-16 in the paint, a stat that coach Jaime White said “was probably the end of the game.”
It was evident early, as Fresno State led 29-22 at halftime with 16 of those points coming in the key.
Smith led the charge, scoring eight of her 13 points in the first half, all from inside.
“I was reminded these past few days that this team is physical and I just need to bring it,” Smith said. “That was my mindset. Play hard and finish every shot. Just focus and do it.”
The 6-foot junior center hauled in a team-high nine rebounds, including six on the offensive end.
“You just gotta get in there with the big girls,” she added.
Three other Bulldogs scored in double figures, as Collins, Furr and Sheedy finished with 10 apieice.
In the second half, the Aztecs slimmed their deficit but never came within less than seven points.
Erimma Amarikwa had a double-double of 12 points and 11 rebounds to lead San Diego State (6-13, 3-5).
“I think it’s defense and transition,” White said. “I feel like our ability to put pressure on the ball, make them take bad shots, turn the ball over and get to the rim, that’s been huge.”
The Bulldogs have won 12 in a row and also have their first win over the Aztecs at Save Mart Center since Fresno State joined the Mountain West Conference.
White on the streak
“This team has won a lot and winning is not new,” White said of the run of 12 in a row. “The streak is not new. But what we’re calm about is that we can win, win, win, win, win, and if we aren’t winning at the end and at the top (of the conference) at the end, then all these streaks and wins don’t matter. That’s what keeps our team humble and hardworking.”