Wyoming was a No. 2 seed. It was 21-8 during the regular season. That didn’t seem possible through three quarters of basketball on Tuesday as the Fresno State women’s basketball team was escorting the Cowgirls out of the Mountain West Conference Tournament with a 58-48 quarterfinal-round victory at the Thomas & Mack Center.
Wyoming had difficulty executing some very basic fundamentals and crumbled often when the Bulldogs, the No. 7 seed, added to the degree of difficulty by applying pressure up the floor or with an active zone.
The Cowgirls just didn’t get much done, and Fresno State (17-14), which advanced to the tournament semifinals at 9 p.m. Wednesday against No. 3 UNLV, which eliminated No. 6 Utah State 68-43, had a lot to do with that. It had good control of the game before it sped up quite a bit in the final quarter.
The Bulldogs’ Bego Faz Davalos extended her school record with her 19th double double with 19 points and 13 rebounds and also had one blocked shot to set a school record with 338. Faz Davalos passed Simone Srubek, who had 337 from 1987 to 1990.
“I thought we had probably the best three quarters put together all season,” coach Jaime White said. “Our kids played really good defense. I thought we pressured well and just caused Wyoming to have to take some time breaking the press and then work on their offense. We contested the right people, we got great rebounding position and good rebounds.”
The Cowgirls closed a 24-point deficit with 1:08 to go in the third quarter to 52-46 with 56 seconds to play.
But White put the pieces back together with a quick timeout and Wyoming, really, had given away far too much of the game. It hit just 6 of 24 shots (25 percent) in the first half, including 1 of 8 from 3-point range when the Bulldogs were burying them in a 26-15 hole.
“It’s tournament time, teams are going to do that,” White said of the Cowgirls’ run. “I thought our kids got scared and came back and held their poise and finished the game.”
Offensively, we really struggled to get a good look at the basket and that’s a credit to Fresno State.
Wyoming coach Joe Legerski
The Bulldogs, who entered the tournament losing five of six to end the regular season but advanced to the quarterfinals with a 62-57 victory over Nevada, steered clear of the issues that hurt Wyoming until the final quarter.
Bego Faz Davalos put together a double double with 19 points and 13 rebounds, extending her single-season school record to 19. Candice White added 19 points, eight coming from the foul line. But it was the defensive effort – and the Cowgirls’ own issues – that had the Bulldogs well clear through most of the game in advancing to the Mountain West semifinals for a fifth year in a row.
“Congratulations to Fresno State. I thought they were the aggressor right from the start, had us back on our heels and always in short shot-clock situations,” Wyoming coach Joe Legerski said. “Offensively, we really struggled to get a good look at the basket and that’s a credit to Fresno State.”
Wyoming, through three quarters, hit just 10 of 35 shots and with just 24 points on the scoreboard, appeared to be on its way to a season low – the Cowgirls had a 53-43 loss to Boise State on Feb. 18 on their home floor in Laramie.
Wyoming had 24 points through three quarters, then 24 in the fourth.
“When it comes to Wyoming, all of them can shoot from the one to the five,” Candice White said. “So it wasn’t necessarily surprising – it was just a matter of how are we going to stop them?”
Robert Kuwada: @rkuwada