Fresno State has won six games in a row to start the Mountain West Conference women’s basketball race and has no plans on letting up on the gas, even with winless Air Force visiting Saturday at Save Mart Center.
“We have a lot of respect for Air Force and what they’re trying to do. You can’t ever take a game for granted,” coach Jaime White said before Friday’s practice. “I didn’t feel like we played our best game against San Diego State, so our challenge is to get better from Wednesday night, and that’s where our focus is.”
The Bulldogs (10-7, 6-0) have built an impressive conference record, especially considering their 4-7 mark in the preseason. They and Colorado State (16-1, 6-0) are the only undefeated teams remaining in the Mountain West.
Air Force (0-17, 0-6) is at the bottom heading into the 2 p.m. tipoff.
Still, none of the Bulldogs’ wins has come in dominant fashion. Their conference-only scoring margin isn’t even second best to the Rams’ 13.5. Boise State is at 6.3, with the Bulldogs third (5.2).
All of Fresno State’s Mountain West wins have been decided by eight points or less, including five by five or less.
Four times, the Bulldogs have found themselves trailing at halftime, often only sealing it in the final minutes, if not seconds.
“We’ve been down at times during games and have had to come back, and I haven’t been too excited about that,” White said, citing Wednesday’s game when the Bulldogs jumped to an 8-2 lead on San Diego State only to see it go away “in the blink of an eye” because of three turnovers.
16.3 Average margin of victory for the Bulldogs in three games against Air Force in Fresno.
“Our challenge for our kids is to stay consistent and let’s push out the score,” White said. “A lot of times I’ve felt like it’s our turnovers, or our missed offenses, or made mistakes that are creating that. We need to really focus on what we’re really doing and make sure we approach every opponent the same.”
One positive for White and her staff through the first six games of conference has been defensive improvement.
When Fresno State keeps the score low, it generally wins. The Bulldogs are unbeaten when holding teams under 60 points in regulation.
“My focus a lot of times is on the defensive part and making sure we’re solid defensively,” White said.
“I think we’ve been up and down in that category, but our man and zone are looking a lot better.”
Scouting the Falcons – Air Force is winless in seven games against the Bulldogs, with the closest a 62-53 loss in the first meeting in 1996.
The Falcons are led by true freshman Cortney Porter, who is averaging 11.5 points per game against conference opponents. Rileymarie Clarke averages 9.5.
WOMEN: AIR FORCE
AT FRESNO STATE
- Saturday: 2 p.m. at Save Mart Center
- Records: Bulldogs 10-7, 6-0 Mountain West; Falcons 0-17, 0-6
- Webcast/radio: MW Network (themw.com)/
- KFPT (AM 790)
- Series: Fresno State leads 7-0.
- Last meeting: Bulldogs won 61-41 on March 3, 2015, in Colorado Springs, Colo.
- Salute to Services Day: All military and veterans get in free with ID, and special guests from the Wounded Warrior Project will be honored at halftime.