Fresno State’s defense stuck together like glue Wednesday night.
Alex Furr, Robin Draper, Shauqunna Collins and Raven Fox smothered Wyoming on the perimeter as the Bulldogs forced the league’s best 3-point shooting team to its poorest effort in Mountain West Conference play en route to a 67-50 win in front of 2,333 fans at Save Mart Center.
“We set the tone and we set it defensively,” coach Jaime White said. “We had a good game plan and did a good job of executing it.”
The Bulldogs (19-7, 11-4) rattled Wyoming into three turnovers in the opening 5 minutes, which Fresno State converted into a 10-2 lead.
The Cowgirls (13-12, 8-7) couldn’t find any space for an open look as the Bulldogs suffocated their three best shooters. Draper locked in on Kaitlyn Mileto, Furr stuck to Kayla Woodward and Collins and Fox rotated against the speedy Marquelle Dent.
It worked, as the Cowgirls — who entered averaging a conference-best 7.8 3-pointers per game — were held to 1-of-5 shooting from distance in the first half and finished 3 of 10.
Woodward and Mileto came into Fresno with double-figure scoring averages, but were held to nine and seven points, respectively.
“We had an attention to defense,” Furr said. “Defense always come first, then our offense will come.”
Added Fox: “We wanted to be right there on the catch or be right there when they’re about to shoot it.”
The Bulldogs scored 16 of their opening 19 points in the paint, with forward Alex Sheedy and center Toni Smith already in double figures before halftime.
“I felt like our kids knew it was going to be a fight from the start and we were ready,” White added.
The Bulldogs led by as many as 15 in the first half, but Wyoming cut the deficit in half on an 8-0 run.
With just under 2 minutes left till halftime, the Cowgirls made it a six-point game on their first 3-pointer from Mileto.
As Mileto retreated, she yelled out an expletive to Furr. It was overheard by an official and Mileto was called for a technical foul.
“If somebody says something like that, you know you’re under their skin,” Furr said.
Mileto’s brief outburst only threw fuel on the Bulldogs’ fire, as they came out gunning in the second half.
Sheedy led the Bulldogs with a game-high 25 points. It matched a career high, with Sheedy getting 25 in back-to-back wins over Oregon and New Mexico earlier this season. She made 9 of 16 (56.3%) shots from the field, including 3 of 6 beyond the arc, and added five rebounds and one block.
Smith finished with 12 points on 6-of-9 shooting to go with seven boards.
“Toni and I work really well inside and when we come out firing then it’s really hard to stop us, because we can both shoot outside and be in the paint,” Sheedy said. “It’s a pretty good combination.”
The combo helped the Bulldogs climb to a 20-point lead with just under 8 minutes left in the game.
Draper added a pair of 3s and finished with 10 points. It was the fifth time this season that the senior out of Memorial High scored in double figures.
“This whole week we’ve been having a lot of fun and that showed in the game,” Sheedy said. “I think that’s the key.”
Dent led the Cowgirls with 16 points on 8-of-16 shooting and six assists.
The Bulldogs remain in third place in the Mountain West as Colorado State (21-6, 13-3) and New Mexico (16-11, 12-4) each won Wednesday. Fresno State can catch the Lobos on Saturday when the teams play at 1 p.m. in Albuquerque.