Fresno State saw a 10-point third-quarter lead vanish Saturday afternoon as San Diego stormed back to steal a 72-68 victory in the final minutes at Save Mart Center.
The Toreros (9-1) paced themselves on the hot-shooting hands of senior guard Malina Hood, who sank a dagger with her fourth three-pointer of the game that put San Diego ahead 69-66 with 31 seconds to go.
Breanne Knishka missed a three-pointer on the next possession, leaving the Bulldogs (4-6) to foul and the Toreros sealed it at the free-throw line.
0-3Fresno State’s record this season in games decided by four points or less
“It’s a disappointing loss, obviously,” Fresno State women’s basketball coach Jaime White said.
“We’ve got to learn to finish, and that’s our challenge,” said White, citing close losses at Saint Mary’s (83-81 in OT) and Cal Poly (64-60). “We’ve got to make sure that every quarter counts, and maybe we stop runs a little sooner, defend a little harder and make free throws when they matter.”
The Bulldogs made just 6 of 12 from the charity stripe, a “frustrating” percentage, White said.
We just let our defense slip. We didn’t get our rebounds when we needed them, and we gave (San Diego) multiple opportunities.
Fresno State coach Jaime White
The Toreros jumped to an 11-point lead in the first quarter but the Bulldogs reversed course, forcing four turnovers in the final five minutes of the second quarter for a 12-2 run to tie it at 30 just before halftime.
The Bulldogs carried that momentum through the third, and Moriah Faulk hit a three-pointer to go up by 10 with 1:31 left in the quarter.
That’s when Hood flipped the script, making a three-pointer and two free throws – via a technical foul called on Alex Furr after an elbow to Cori Woodward – over the next 16 seconds to make it a five-point game going into the fourth.
We’ve just got to build on it. We did a lot of positive things that we can continue to build on, but we’ve got to get better.
Fresno State senior guard Alex Furr after the Bulldogs’ 72-68 loss to San Diego
The Bulldogs fell cold in the fourth, shooting just 6 of 14 from the field and 1 of 6 from beyond the arc as the Toreros retook the lead at 64-63 with 2:21 remaining.
Shauqunna Collins, back in the starting lineup after a one-game suspension imposed by the team, led Fresno State with 17 points to go with five assists and five rebounds. Bego Faz Davalos added 15 points, six rebounds, five assists and three blocks.
Hood and her twin, Maya, each scored eight points in the final quarter. Malina, who was averaging 21.7 points per game, finished with a game-high 28 and hit 4 of 8 from long range. Maya had 14 to go with six rebounds and four steals.
“You’ve got to knock down shots, just like number 11 (Malina Hood). She got the call – game over,” White said.
“At the end of the day, we’ve got to make shots, and if it’s going to be physical, we’ve got to get through that physicality and knock those down; and if we miss, we’ve got to get rebounds.”
The announced attendance was 2,121.
FRESNO STATE AT UTAH
- Saturday: 2 p.m. at Huntsman Center
- Records: Bulldogs 4-6, Utes 5-3
- Webcast: Pac-12 Network