The Fresno State women’s basketball team hopes to keep its stride Saturday afternoon with defending Mountain West Conference tournament champion Boise State (8-5, 1-1) at the Save Mart Center.
The Bulldogs (7-7, 3-0) have won three in a row to reach the .500 mark, both season highs, after a shaky run through the nonconference schedule.
“Well, with our last three games, we hope our kids have a lot of confidence going into this fourth one,” coach Jaime White said ahead of Friday’s practice. “We feel good. We’ve got the Red Wave behind us, and we’re at home. We’ve been on the road, and we hope that our confidence rolls us into the rest of the conference season.”
Alex Furr, one of two senior co-captains with Toni Smith, has noticed the team’s rejuvenation since returning from Christmas break.
Never miss a local story.
“It’s a new start. We’ve had good focus, and we know that our past doesn’t matter; it’s just made us stronger,” she said.
Furr played 44 minutes at New Mexico, going 10 of 10 from the free-throw line in a 69-65 double-overtime win to extend her run of perfection at the charity stripe to 28 since Dec. 5.
Smith appears awakened from a midseason slump, scoring double digits in each of the past two games. She was one rebound short of a double double in the win against the Aggies.
Senior point guard Shauqunna Collins is averaging 10.8 points per game, reaching double figures in nine of her 13 games.
To see our seniors play with that kind of intensity really is inspiring.
Jaime White, Fresno State coach
But it’s not only the starters. Fresno State has a resurgent bench, too.
Moriah Faulk has proven to be the top reserve, with senior Brittany Aikens backing up Collins as offense instigator. Kendra Martin also has stepped up, creating space inside and using her strength to haul in rebounds.
Fresno State’s bench has accounted for 23.3 of the team’s 64.7 points per game.
Since conference started, five Bulldogs are averaging 9.7 points or more per game.
“It gives us a good push on that tier of playing,” White said.
“I think it’s a role that was kind of established last year, and the kids have bought into it this year. Sometimes you come into a little bit more of a tired team, and you can attack them in that way.”
The goal, White said, is to have everybody playing as consistently as possible.
“I definitely feel good about where we’re at right now,” she said. “We’re getting there, but we’re not quite there yet. But it’s nice to see our seniors lead the way.”
Scouting the Broncos – Boise State (8-5, 1-1) has won three of its past four games, with its loss coming to defending regular-season champ Colorado State in the conference opener Jan. 2.
Boise State is led by preseason all-conference pick Brooke Pahukoa, who leads the Mountain West in three-point shooting at 46.7 percent (28 of 60) and is fourth in scoring at 15.4 points per game.
Shalen Shaw, a 6-foot-1 sophomore, has double doubles in three consecutive games while rebounding like a machine, leading the team on the boards in nine of 13 games this season. Shaw, who started one game last season, is averaging 13.3 points and 8.1 rebounds.
Fresno State has won 12 of 13 in the series since Jan. 5, 2009, though the past three have gone to overtime. The teams split a pair of games in 2014-15, each winning at home.
Saturday’s game is the only regular-season meeting between the two teams this year.
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 Wednesday)
- Series: Fresno State leads 23-10
- Last season: Both teams needed overtime to defend their home courts. Broncos won 75-66 on Feb. 14 and the Bulldogs 55-52 on March 6.
- Webcast/radio: Mountain West Network (themwc.com)/KFPT (AM 790)