Starting the game wasn’t an issue for the Fresno State women’s basketball team Saturday. Finishing it was.
The Bulldogs got off to a hot start against first-place Colorado State with a 9-0 scoring run in the first quarter, grabbing a lead they would hold for 39 minutes and 27 seconds until it began to slip away in the final seconds of regulation.
With 5.2 seconds left in the fourth quarter, the Rams’ Myanne Hamm hit a 3-pointer to send the game into overtime tied 59-59 at Save Mart Center.
It was then Colorado State took its first lead, scoring four straight points to open overtime. Fresno State (14-10, 7-6) rallied back on consecutive baskets from point guard Candice White to take a 64-63 lead with 51 seconds remaining.
However, the lead would only last 15 seconds, as the Rams leveled it on Hannah Tvrdy’s free throw.
With 11.4 seconds left, reigning Mountain West Player of the Year Ellen Nystrom took the inbound pass and pulled up for a jumper from the foul line, making the game-winner with 2.1 to go.
It triggered flashbacks of last year’s conference championship.
“It’s kinda hard because it’s almost the same scenario as last year. Nystrom beat us last year on free throws and this year she beat us on a jump shot,” team captain and senior guard Tory Jacobs said after the loss. “We just got to bounce back and get another three-, four-game win streak going.”
To bounce back, the Bulldogs will need to address their biggest fault during a week of mostly positives: free-throw shooting.
While they had chances to win on Tory Jacobs’ 3-point attempt at the end of the fourth and Candice White’s halfcourt shot at the end of overtime, they left too many points on the floor. Fresno State shot just 7 for 15 (46.7 percent) at the free-throw line, including 3 for 8 by junior center Bego Faz Davalos.
The Bulldogs are shooting 64.5 percent from the stripe this season, while opponents are making 69 percent.
“We played well and gave ourselves a chance to win both games to be honest. But, I mean, we shot 46 percent from the free-throw line. That’s the game. It’s hard to learn that way,” White said. “You learn much more playing in a game like this then you would in any kind of a blowout.”
Fresno State now sits alone in fifth place in the conference standings, one game back of UNLV (17-8, 8-5), which the Bulldogs will visit in their regular-season finale March 3, and a half-game in front of Boise State (16-7, 6-6), which the Bulldogs will host Feb. 28.
“It doesn’t take away that we played the top two teams in the same week and had a chance to beat both of them. We go into next week and go on the road again, and have a chance to win those, and as a coach that’s all you can ask,” White said. “We’ve got to be ready and refocused and let this game go and say, ‘Hey, we could’ve won it; we didn’t. Let’s move on and let’s keep getting better and get ready for the tournament.’ ”
FRESNO STATE AT SAN JOSE STATE
- Wednesday: 7 p.m. at Event Center Arena
- Records: Bulldogs 14-10, 7-6; Spartans 8-16, 5-7 (lost 63-55 against UNLV on Saturday)
- Series/last meeting: Fresno State leads 56-20. Bulldogs won 88-74 on Jan. 7 in Fresno.
- Webcast: Mountain West Network (themw.com)