The Fresno State women’s basketball team showed the confidence it has had since beginning the Mountain West Conference portion of its schedule, climbing to a double-digit, first-period lead en route to another road victory Wednesday night.
The Bulldogs (7-7, 3-0 Mountain West), in beating Nevada 67-59, took command of the post early, with senior forward Toni Smith scoring 10 of her team-high 16 points in the first half. She also finished with nine rebounds.
Redshirt sophomore center Bego Faz Davalos added 14 points and 10 rebounds for her sixth double-double of the season. She also had three blocks.
But among those making their presence known down low was JC transfer Kendra Martin, who hauled in all three of her offensive boards in the fourth quarter and nabbed a steal in the final minutes to help preserve the win.
Martin was averaging just 0.5 points, 2.0 rebounds and 8.4 minutes per game entering Wednesday’s game. But those numbers will change as the 5-foot-11 junior from Denver scored a career-high eight points and pulled in four rebounds in 18 minutes off the bench.
Kendra Martin was a top-75 JC recruit, according to Dan Olson’s Girls Basketball Report and helped Chipola to 34-1 record and program’s first National Junior College Athletic Association Division I title in 2014-15.
Martin’s biggest play came with 7:30 to go as the Bulldogs’ lead was cut to three – 58-55 – after a three-pointer from Stephanie Schmid and a pair of free throws by MorningRose Tobey.
On the Bulldogs’ next possession, Martin missed a midrange jumper that bounced off the front of the rim, but she ran into the key to get her own offensive rebound. That allowed the offense to reset and the ball eventually found its way to an open Smith for a layup that sparked a 7-0 scoring run, with the Bulldogs going back in front by double digits on a Moriah Faulk three-pointer with 4:21 remaining.
“It’s what we’ve known about her,” coach Jaime White said. “It’s nice to see her come in there and give us another guard slash forward. … She had a great game in New Mexico and hopefully this is the beginning of a consistent effort.”
Smith, one of the team’s two senior co-captains, lauded Martin’s performance.
This game was another statement game. It’s a confidence booster and gives us the motivation to keep pushing each other and fighting each other so we can keep going and rolling and get to the top.
Fresno State senior co-captain Toni Smith
“Kendra coming off the bench definitely contributed in a big way,” Smith said. “We knew we had to win the boards today and that was on our mind the whole time. We have good girls who can find the ball and today we showed it.”
The Bulldogs outrebounded the Wolf Pack 39-33, including 21-10 on the offensive end while cashing in 18 second-chance points. Fresno State outscored Nevada in the paint 36-22.
The Bulldogs had led by as many as 16 in the third quarter, after an Alex Furr three-pointer with 7:35 to go.
Schmid led the Wolf Pack with 18 points.
9Fresno State turnovers at Nevada. It’s the Bulldogs’ lowest total yet against a Mountain West opponent.
The win extends the Bulldogs’ winning streak to a season-high three games, the past two coming on the road, where they were 1-4 (the lone win on a neutral court at a tournament) before winning at New Mexico in double overtime Saturday.
“It feels good right about now,” White said. “It’s a new year, a fresh start and our kids have really bought into that and we’re hungry for more.”
FRESNO STATE VS. BOISE STATE
- Saturday: 2 p.m. at Save Mart Center
- Records: Bulldogs 7-7, 3-0; Broncos 8-5, 1-1 (beat Utah State 84-78 in overtime on Wednesday)