The Fresno State women’s basketball team won’t meet its preseason goal of getting through nonconference play with a winning record.
That was spoiled Saturday in a 72-68 loss to San Diego, dropping the Bulldogs to 4-6.
Of those six losses, the Bulldogs saw fourth-quarter leads disappear in half (Washington, Saint Mary’s and San Diego). At Cal Poly, they erased a 14-point fourth-quarter deficit and came within one possession of the lead, only to lose 64-60.
That’s a dangerous trend that coach Jaime White is trying to stop.
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If you think about it, to have a late-game situation means that you played good enough to keep it close and give yourself a chance win.
Fresno State coach Jaime White
The Bulldogs have been practicing late-game situations all week ahead of their nonconference season finale at Utah at 1 p.m. Saturday.
“I think there’s been times when we’ve had leads and we haven’t made stops,” White said at Thursday’s practice. “We won’t always match scores, but we can have that intensity on defense to make sure we’re getting good stops, we’re pulling defensive rebounds, while not allowing offensive rebounds and not turning the ball over.”
It’ll be a tough test at the Huntsman Center, where the Utes (5-3) are off to a 5-0 start.
The Bulldogs are 0-3 on the road this season. Their lone victory outside Save Mart Center came against Northeastern on a neutral court at Saint Mary’s.
Utah is powered by 6-foot-6 forward Emily Potter, the Pacific-12 Conference’s reigning player of the week. Potter averaged 26 points and 18 rebounds in wins over Creighton and BYU last week.
She averages 12.1 rebounds per game, ninth best in the nation. Fresno State’s Bego Faz Davalos is 19th at 10.7.
Potter is a big reason the Utes have outrebounded every one of their opponents this season at an overall rate of 43.1 to 34.0. Fresno State’s numbers aren’t even even half as good at a margin of 4.6 (40.9 to 36.3).
Senior forward Toni Smith hopes the Bulldogs’ quickness can beat the Utes inside.
“We have to run the floor,” Smith said. “They may be bigger, thicker girls, but they can’t run with us. It’s not just physical, but doing everything quicker than them. Having that quicker step, that’s our advantage.”
The Bulldogs will play their Mountain West Conference opener Dec. 30 against UNLV.
Blount off team – Bulldogs junior guard Janae Blount has been dismissed after violating team rules, White announced in a news release Friday. Blount, a 5-foot-9 guard, was in her second year with the program after transferring from Northwest Florida State. She redshirted last season because of a knee injury. This season, she averaged 5.2 minutes in five games.
Familiar face – A few of the more veteran Bulldogs players will see a familiar face sitting on the Utah bench. Danyelle Snelgro, an assistant in her first year with the Utes, was on the Fresno State staff from 2012 to 2014 under then-coach Raegan Pebley. Snelgro coached the Bulldogs’ backcourt and helped the program to consecutive Mountain West titles.
FRESNO STATE AT UTAH
- Saturday: 1 p.m. at Huntsman Center
- Records: Bulldogs 4-6, Utes 5-3
- Series: Utah leads 12-3.
- Last meeting: Utah won 82-58 at Fresno State on Dec. 1, 2007
- Webcast: pac-12.com/live/university-utah