Attention to defense was the perfect remedy for Fresno State in the second half as the Bulldogs corrected a dismal second-quarter plunge with a taut full-court press to come back and beat Nevada 65-56 Sunday at Save Mart Center.
It was a crucial win for Fresno State (14-9, 10-2), which had dropped two of its last three games in the Mountain West Conference women’s basketball race.
Sixth-year senior Alex Furr led the charge, scoring 11 of her team-high 14 points after halftime, including 5 of 6 from the free-throw line.
Furr opened the third quarter with a three-pointer that ignited the Bulldogs’ resurgence. She continued running the offense and drove to the basket to pull her team closer from the free-throw line. With Fresno State down 39-38 and 2:43 left in the third, Furr sank a three-pointer, and the Bulldogs never looked back.
Alex Furr is one three-pointer from cracking Fresno State’s career top 10. She has made 121 from long range, one behind Geri Gainey (1988-91) and Bailey Amundsen (2007-09).
It sparked a 10-0 Fresno State run aided by a defense that forced four Nevada turnovers, including a 10-second violation. The Wolf Pack also struggled shooting, making just 18.8 percent (3 of 16) from the field in the period.
“I thought we had a good third quarter coming out and answered the call,” Fresno State coach Jaime White said. “We came out in the second half and really stepped up defensively, and then our offense really took off.”
5-0 Bulldogs’ record in Mountain West play when trailing at halftime
It wasn’t an easy turnaround for the Bulldogs, who saw a seven-point lead early in the second quarter transform into a 10-point deficit by way of a 17-0 scoring run by the Wolf Pack.
Nevada (4-19, 3-9) got going behind senior forward Nyasha LeSure, who powered her way inside to score 11 of her game-high 15 points during the period.
Offensively, Fresno State was in shambles, committing seven turnovers and shooting 2 of 10 during the run.
The Bulldogs got a glimpse of hope toward the end of the half, cutting their deficit to five via a Moriah Faulk three-pointer and Shauqunna Collins’ layup at the buzzer.
In the locker room, Fresno State was confident it could turn things around. Five times this season, the Bulldogs have trailed at halftime against a conference opponent, and all five times they’ve pulled out the win.
“You play the first half only to get to the second,” White said. “We just had to get back to playing defense the way we can. The San Diego State game shook us up a little bit. I thought I saw a little bit of a question in the first half (Sunday), but we got comfortable, and I thought we had great senior leadership from Alex Furr and Shauqunna Collins.”
Fresno State center Bego Faz Davalos fell just short of a triple double with 11 points, 10 rebounds and nine blocks. Toni Smith added 13 points and six rebounds. Furr was 3 of 7 from three-point range for her fourth straight game with at least three threes.
I was not feeling the best about my shot at halftime, but my teammates were telling me they were good shots and the next one will go in.
Senior guard Alex Furr, on her three-pointer with 2:23 left in the third quarter that gave the ’Dogs the lead for the remainder of the game.
Fresno State will remain at home, hosting Wyoming at 7 p.m. Wednesday.
FRESNO STATE VS. WYOMING
- Wednesday: 7 p.m. at Save Mart Center
- Records: Bulldogs 14-9, 10-2 Mountain West; Cowgirls 12-11, 5-8 (won 82-58 vs. Boise State on Saturday)
- Webcast/radio: Mountain West Network (themwc.com)/ KFPT (AM 790)