Focus, not to mention exceptional free-throw shooting and aggressive rebounding, was all it took for the Fresno State women’s basketball team to snap a four-game slide.
The Bulldogs hit 18 of 21 free throws and had a 41-28 edge on the boards, 16 of those on the offensive end, and beat Utah State 64-55 in a Mountain West Conference game at Save Mart Center.
“It’s a good feeling,” forward Alex Sheedy said of ending the victory drought that knocked the team out of the conference lead.
“I think everyone came into the game focused. I think that might have been something that’s been lacking in the last few games, but we knew what we wanted and it shows that we can dig deep if we have to.”
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Sheedy led Fresno State (18-7, 10-4) with 22 points and 12 rebounds (five offensive) for her second double-double in as many games. It was the senior’s ninth double-double of the season, most in the Mountain West.
Robin Draper had an impeccable scoring line, going 3 of 3 from the field (including two 3-pointers) and 4 for 4 from the line to finish with 12 points. She also had two steals and no turnovers. It was just the third time this season the senior guard out of Memorial High had scored in double figures.
“It’s good to see our senior leadership,” coach Jaime White said. “They of all people know what it means now going down the stretch. … We made good decisions, had good offense and took care of the ball.”
The Bulldogs went into halftime leading 30-28 and started the second half on a 6-0 run, but things went dry over the next 5 minutes.
Missed shots and costly turnovers — five in a 2-minute span that saw the Aggies take a 37-36 lead — left White visibly frustrated. She slapped her hands on the floor and later kicked her chair, drawing a warning from the officials.
“Turnovers aren’t my favorite thing,” White later said. “We had a lot of them, so I was frustrated about 22 times.”
The Bulldogs quickly picked up the pieces on an 11-0 scoring run fueled by Sheedy, Draper and junior center Toni Smith. Draper capped the turnaround on her second 3-pointer for a 47-37 lead with 10:16 remaining.
Smith scored 16 of her 18 total points after halftime, going 6 of 7 from the free-throw line, and had eight rebounds.
Funda Nakkasoglu led the Aggies with a game-high 24 points and six assists. Utah State shot 44.2% (23 of 52) from the field and 45.5% (5 of 11) from the charity stripe. When the teams met Jan. 7 in Logan, the Aggies were 14 of 14 on free throws, though the Bulldogs won that one, too, 70-64.
The Bulldogs are a half-game back of second-place New Mexico (15-11, 10-4) and two behind Colorado State (20-6, 12-3) with four games left in the regular season.
“That (losing streak) is not us,” Sheedy said. “We came in today wanting to win. We never felt we were going to lose this game.”