Fresno State is playing differently than it has in the past few seasons of its women’s basketball program, with the emphasis on the offensive end shifting outside to its guards.
Early returns in an 81-56 victory Friday over Eastern Washington at Save Mart could not have been more positive.
The Bulldogs moved the ball very well, recording an assist on 25 of their 31 baskets, with sophomore Kristina Cavey scoring a career-high 21 points and Candice White and Bree Delaney both adding 15.
Those three hit a combined 18 of 27 shots and as a team Fresno State knocked down 52.5 percent, including 52.6 from beyond the 3-point line.
“I’ll take that any day,” coach Jaime White said.
The assist-to-basket ratio, that is worth taking forward as well.
“A lot better movement than I feel like we’ve had maybe in a couple of years,” White said. “That might be a record or ir might be tied for the best. But that’s great to see. Bree Delaney really got in there and was able to get some great kickouts. You know, kids have to hit (the shot) on the end of that, but I thought we saw the floor really well, moved the ball really well, attacked the basket a little bit.
“I’d have liked us to rebound better, but offensively we were pretty hot so we didn’t have a lot of opportunities.”
Fresno State hit 52.5 percent of its shots and its defense wasn’t bad, either. Eastern Washington hit 33.3 percent, including 2 of 18 beyond the 3-point line.
As a result the Eagles did not, either.
Fresno State didn’t take great care of the basketball in the first quarter, turning it over seven times. But it hit seven of its first 13 shots including 3-for-3 from the 3-point line and was off and running.
Cavey, who averaged 4.7 points while playing 17.1 minutes per game last season, hit her first four shots.
“A lot of it obviously comes from the assists,” Cavey said. “I credit all that to my teammates. There was a lot of that and we really worked through our motion really well and then also just got into our offense really smoothly.
“That was something we worked on, just being able to get into the offense and run through it a little bit and find our openings all around.”
The Bulldogs kept finding and hitting open shots, outscoring Eastern Washington 24-10 in the second quarter and 25-15 in the third. Their biggest lead was 33 points, coming when Genna Ogier scored in the paint off an assist from Saraya Smith with 8:37 remaining and when White knocked down a 3-pointer off an assist from Raven Johnson with 6:06 to go.
The 25 assists were the most that Fresno State has had under White, who is in her fourth season. The Bulldogs last had more when racking up 27 in a 90-64 victory over UNLV on March 9, 2013.
Fresno State’s 25-point margin of victory was its largest against a Division I opponent since a 77-43 victory at Air Force on Jan. 8, 2014.
“We knew we were going to be more guard-oriented this year and we wanted to make sure our offense reflected that,” White said. “I think our kids have all really bought into it, Kristina being one, obviously, and transition leads right into it. There’s no stop and go action, which was kind of slowing the game down a little bit.”
Robert Kuwada: @rkuwada
FRESNO STATE VS. ARIZONA STATE
- Wednesday: 3 p.m. at Save Mart Center
- Records: Bulldogs 1-0, Sun Devils 0-0
- Of note: Arizona State’s roster includes Bre’yanna Sanders of 2016-17 CIF State Open Division champion Clovis West. The Sun Devils open Sunday against Texas-San Antonio. They are led by point guard Reili Richardson, who gained honorable mention on the Pac-12 All-Freshman team a year ago and spent the summer playing with USA Basketball Women’s U19 team. Richardson averaged 8.4 points and 3.8 assists last season.