Toni Smith and Bego Faz Davalos go together like peanut butter and jelly, chips and salsa, cookies and milk.
You name it, they got it, in near-equal doses for Fresno State’s opposition in the Mountain West Conference women’s basketball race.
The down-low duo form a frontcourt that has vaulted the Bulldogs (11-7, 7-0) to seven straight wins ahead of Wednesday’s 6 p.m. game at Wyoming (10-8, 3-5).
Fresno State is 3-0 against Wyoming in the Jaime White era.
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In five of their past six games, the Bulldogs have put up 30 or more points inside the key. Fresno State is 9-3 when outscoring opponents in the paint and 8-2 when winning the rebounding battle.
Faz Davalos, a 6-foot-1 redshirt sophomore from Mexico, leads the conference in rebounding (10.1 per game) – offensive (3.6) and defensive (6.5) – blocks (3.6) and double-doubles (nine). She leads the team in scoring, averaging 12.6 points per game.
9double-doubles for Bego Faz Davalos this season to lead the Mountain West
Smith, a 6-0 senior forward from Del City, Okla., has turned on the jets since getting into conference play. She has reached double-digit scoring in six straight and leads the team against Mountain West opponents at 12.1 points per game to go with a 6.7 rebounding average. Against nonconference teams, Smith averaged 8.5 points and 5.5 rebounds in 11 games.
“It’s hard to guard both of them, and that’s a challenge for our opponents,” Bulldogs assistant Mandi Carver said. “If you take one away, the other is going to have an opportunity.”
I think one of the best things for their development is playing against each other for the last three years. That’s the only way. They make each other better every single day. They’re not always on the same team. But fortunately for us, they are on Wednesdays and Saturdays.
Bulldogs assistant Mandi Carver on spirited practice battles between Bego Faz Davalos and Toni Smith
But more than just capitalizing against double-teams, Carver has witnessed Faz Davalos and Smith develop into more complete athletes during the past two seasons.
The players’ bond extends further, back to the tenure of previous coach Raegan Pebley, when Faz Davalos was in her first year in the program and Smith was a sophomore. Faz Davalos wound up redshirting, but practiced with and against Smith and other tall players such as Alex Sheedy, Jessy Saint-Felix and Jacinta Vandenberg.
Now, Faz Davalos and Smith are what remains from that group and they have become inseparable friends.
They’re competitive with each other and best friends the minute that competition ends and that’s really shown their growth and helped them elevate to the top of the conference.
Carver on the frontcourt tandem’s off-court bond
“We have a lot of chemistry,” Smith said with a sly grin at Monday’s practice. “We just try to stay together as much as we can on the court because we know our post is a big part of our game.”
“It’s just fun. She knows what I’m doing and I know what she’s doing,” Faz Davalos chimed in.
“It’s all just practice,” Smith added. “Three years of it.”
Scouting the Cowgirls – Wyoming has lost four of its past five games, including two last week at Nevada (68-65) and at Boise State (58-49).
Senior guard Marquelle Dent leads the Cowgirls in scoring (18.2), assists (5.5) and steals (2.2). Jordan Kelley averages 9.3 reboundsper game and is third in scoring (10.5).
Bulldogs coach Jaime White, a former Wyoming assistant, led Fresno State to a 3-0 sweep of the Cowgirls last season – including a conference tournament victory.
FRESNO STATE AT WYOMING
- Wednesday: 6 p.m. at Arena-Auditorium in Laramie
- Records: Bulldogs 11-7, 7-0 Mountain West; Cowgirls 10-8, 3-5 (lost 58-49 at Boise State on Saturday)
- Series: Fresno State leads 14-10.
- Last meeting: Bulldogs won 74-66 in Mountain West quarterfinal March 10, 2015.
- Internet: Mountain West Network (themw.com)