The Fresno State women’s basketball team is fresh after a week off and is set to tackle the rest of its Mountain West season starting with San Jose State in a Wednesday night home game.
The extra time off may have arrived at an opportune time for the streaking Bulldogs (12-7, 8-0), amid their perfect start in conference play.
Last year, the Bulldogs won nine straight to open the conference schedule as part of an overall 13-game run. However, that streak ended at San Jose State the following game.
“We have good confidence but we’re never too confident,” coach Jaime White said. “Sure you’d like to have (a bye) maybe in two weeks and especially before the tournament, but you’re not in charge of that so we take it where it’s at and we’ll use it to our advantage.”
The Bulldogs are going for their first season sweep of the Spartans since 2011
The Bulldogs hope the added practice time can help prevent a repeat of last year’s streak-ending loss to the Spartans (7-14, 5-5).
Fresno State escaped Round 1 this season against the Spartans by winning 59-54 on Jan. 16 in San Jose.
“It’s hard that second time to not overlook anything and make sure we don’t just roll in thinking we’re going to win like last time – and that last game wasn’t easy,” White said.
Fresno State has continued to show improvement as it has progressed through the conference schedule. Colorado State is the only other unbeaten team in the Mountain West, tied with the Bulldogs at 8-0.
We’re still trying to get better every day, so whatever the outcome, we need to get better than what we were last week.
Fresno State coach Jaime White
Among changes along the way is the insertion of senior point guard Brittany Aikens into the starting lineup, replacing Shauqunna Collins. Aikens made her second consecutive start in a 49-42 win at Wyoming.
Aikens had four blocks, including three on Cowgirls leading scorer Marquelle Dent, who was held to six points and 2-of-12 shooting. Dent entered the game averaging 18.2 points per game. The defensive performance solidified Aikens’ role in the starting lineup.
“I think the question was defense, but now that’s been answered,” White said. “(Aikens) has shown that she can hit the three, she can hit the pull-up jumper. … There’s no more questions. She’s done a great job and she continues to do a great job.”
60 All 12 of the Bulldogs’ wins have come when holding opponents under 60 points in regulation.
Aikens relishes the opportunity to fill such a key role.
“You’re the point guard. You’re the coach on the floor,” Aikens said. “You call the plays if you can’t hear the coach. So to know that the coaching staff and my teammates trust me in that position is a great feeling.”
It’s a chance that was a long time coming for the third-year Bulldog, who arrived as a walk-on transfer from Howard College in Texas. She’s on scholarship now.
“I’ve learned that things are much more comfortable,” Aikens said, “if you let things come to you.”
Scouting the Spartans – The Spartans are coming off a 72-49 win at Air Force and have gotten three of their four conference wins on the road. Dezz Ramos leads the team in scoring at 19.4 points per game and is second in the conference in three-point shooting at 41.5 percent.
FRESNO STATE VS. SAN JOSE STATE
- Wednesday: 7 p.m. at Save Mart Center
- Records: Bulldogs 12-7, 8-0 Mountain West; Spartans 7-14, 5-5 (beat Air Force 72-49 on Wednesday)
- Series: Fresno State leads 54-20
- Last meeting: Bulldogs won 59-54 in San Jose on Jan. 16
- Webcast/radio: Mountain West Network (themw.com)/KFPT (AM 790)