Fresno State had plenty of opportunities to beat UNLV on Wednesday night, but couldn’t put the Rebels away, falling 73-70 in overtime.
The Bulldogs led 59-56 when Danielle Miller forced overtime with a 3-pointer at the buzzer.
And even then, with 5 minutes left to protect the homecourt, the Bulldogs (17-5, 9-2 Mountain West) lacked intensity and urgency as the Rebels surged in front by as many as eight in the first 2:30 of overtime via a 3-pointer from Brooke Johnson (Hanford High) and a Miller layup.
The Bulldogs stayed in the game, with big 3-pointers from Alex Furr and from Shauqunna Collins to pull within one with just under 10 seconds left, but Fresno State went on to see the end of a 17-game home winning streak that dated to last season
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It is the first time this season that the Bulldogs have lost consecutive games and is UNLV’s first win in Fresno in more than 20 years — the last one coming Feb. 15, 1992.
“I don’t think we played very well as a team tonight,” coach Jaime White said. “We were just a bunch of individuals at times.”
Fresno State forced 30 UNLV turnovers but had difficulty maximizing those on the scoreboard, though it did finish with 33 points of turnovers in the game.
“I was forcing the shot, instead of gathering it,” senior guard Raven Fox said.
“We were looking for different options,” added Collins, who led the Bulldogs with 15 points, hitting 3 of 5 from long range.
The Bulldogs were too patient in waiting for the offense to develop, getting called for two shot-clock violations in the second half while often times shooting after unsteady looks to beat the shot clock.
Simply put, the Bulldogs “didn’t have a discipline to running the offense and seeing what we needed,” White said.
The Rebels (9-13, 4-8) jumped to an early lead in the first half before the Bulldogs responded with a 9-0 run and went on to end the first half with a 31-27 lead. (Heading into Wednesday’s matchup, the Bulldogs were 13-0 in games when leading at halftime).
In the second half, UNLV again came out gunning as Johnson finished a layup and a jumper to cut the deficit to one and a deep 3-pointer to tie it up at 36-36 with 15:14 left in the second half.
The Rebels led for the next 12 minutes of the game until Fox spurred a short comeback on a four-point swing in the final 2 minutes to put Fresno State up 57-56.
Alex Sheedy seemed to ice a Bulldogs’ victory, making two free throws with 10 seconds remaining, but the Rebels, as they had done all game long, charged back to force overtime on Miller’s 3-pointer.
“It’s hard when you think a game is won,” White said. “With 3 seconds left, you’re up by 1 and it’s an out-of-bounds play. You just have to make sure they don’t hit a 3 and then they do and that’s hard. It kind of depletes you. You got to regroup.”
“(Miller) hits such a great shot,” White said. “You can’t do anything about that, but that was only to tie it, not to win.”
Miller, who came into the Save Mart Center as the conference’s leading scorer, finished with a game-high 22 points and shot 50% (8 of 16) from the field, including 2 of 6 from long range.
Johnson, the former Bullpups standout and now UNLV freshman who had supporters nearly 50 deep waiting for her after the game, was pleased her team got the outcome they wanted.
“We wanted this game really bad,” she said. “We’re just trying to keep going forward in conference. Fresno is a great team and we knew coming in it was going to be a tough one.”
Johnson finished with 10 points and six rebounds and two assists for the Rebels.
Sheedy had 13 points, six rebounds and three steals for Fresno State. Toni Smith and Fox added nine apiece while freshman Bego Faz Davalos had seven with six rebounds and three blocks.
Furr, who had started every game for the Bulldogs this season until Wednesday, didn’t enter the game until the second half as she was recovering from an injury to her right hand. She finished with six points, two boards and two steals.
The Bulldogs still hold a one-game lead in the Mountain West as New Mexico beat Colorado State 67-40 Wednesday to put both programs tied for second at 9-3.