A slow and jittery start for the Fresno City College women’s basketball team wasn’t exactly the plan going into the state final four.
The Rams committed 15 of their 22 turnovers in the first half to trail by 14 points at the break en route to a 75-66 loss to Mt. San Antonio on Friday night in the state semifinals at Las Positas College in Livermore.
Fresno City ends the season at 29-4.
“We came out intimidated,” Rams coach Brian Tessler said. “Our offense didn’t look like how we ran it in the past four months. Combined with that, we got into early foul trouble, but in the end they were killing us on the glass. We were lucky to be down 14 points.”
It was the type of start the ninth-year Fresno City coach had hoped to avoid while chasing the program’s first state championship.
“We weren’t attacking the basket at all, got ourselves in bad spots on the floor,” Tessler said. “I told them, ‘Why aren’t you cutting? Why aren’t you getting it to the rim?’ That never stopped us before. Everything I was concerned with kind of happened in the first half.”
The Mounties (33-1) pulled down 45 rebounds while Fresno City had 29.
Five Mt. SAC players scored in double figures, led by Jonnae Vermillion with 18.
The Rams never led in the game although they got close in the fourth quarter. Fresno City trailed 64-63 on a Jasmine Black layup with 3:50 left in the game before the Mounties went on a 9-0 run. Black finished with a game-high 21 points.
“I knew they were gonna go on a run,” said Mt. SAC coach Brian Crichlow, whose team will face East Los Angeles for the title Sunday. “It was inevitable. They were too good of a team to just lay down and just let somebody beat them. It was just a matter of when the run was going to happen. In their favor, it happened down the stretch.”
Tessler praised his team for not giving up and staying in the game.
“I thought we showed a lot of grit in the second half,” he said. “I told them after the game, ‘The fact you were down by 16 and fought back says more about your heart and effort even with the outcome of the game.’ They never stopped competing the whole game.”
Mt. San Antonio 75, Fresno City 66
Fresno City (29-4): Jasmine Black 21, Madison Barnes 2, Sara Vasquez 5, Jordan Whitfield 6, Natalie Avadis 4, Erin Pallesi 4, Toni Edwards 18, Julia Locastro 4, Heaven Lee 2. Totals: 17-36 (7-20). FT: 11-13.
Mt. San Antonio (33-1): Gina Henderson 12, Caira Benton 17, Jonnae Vermillion 18, Alize’ Lofton 11, Tahniya Sweatt 13, Allyah George 2, Alisia Spearman 2. Totals: 27-65 (0-4). FT: 21-32.
Mt. San Antonio
Three-pointers: Fresno City 7 (Black 4), Mt. San Antonio 0. Rebounds: Fresno City 29 (Edwards 7), Mt. San Antonio 45 (Benton 12). Assists: Fresno City 11 (Edwards 3), Mt. San Antonio 12 (Sweatt 5). Fouls: Fresno City 25, Mt. San Antonio 16.