Fresno State lost 83-64 to Saint Mary’s at McKeon Pavilion on Monday night in the second round of the Women’s National Invitation Tournament, ending the Bulldogs’ season.
Fresno State clawed back from an early 6-0 deficit and eventually tied it at 17-17 before the Gaels scored 15 unanswered points and never looked back.
The Bulldogs’ offense went silent over the next 10 minutes, committing seven turnovers and missing 10 shots from the field until Stephanie Rovetti’s layup with 2:57 to go until halftime.
But by then, it was too late as the Gaels were ahead 34-19.
“We’ve got to make our shots and tonight we just didn’t knock them down,” said first-year Bulldogs coach Jaime White. “You’ve got to knock them down early so you can make it a game and you can keep it close, and we struggled doing that.”
Fresno State for the game shot 36.7% (22 of 60) from the field and 34.5% (10 of 29) on 3-pointers.
The game turned physical early in the paint, with the Gaels dominating behind 6-foot-3 Carli Rosenthal and 6-foot Lauren Nicholson. Nicholson had six of her team-high 21 points in the first half. She shot 6 of 8 for the game and hit 9 of 11 free throws. Rosenthal added 12 points and seven rebounds.
The Bulldogs had trouble matching that physicality and when they tried to switch their defense to counter it, they repeatedly found themselves one step behind.
“It felt like every time we changed looks, they changed offenses and they just really had a little more of an aggressive intensity initially,” White said.
A flurry of foul calls on the Bulldogs put the Gaels in the bonus early in both halves. The officiating led to frustration for Fresno State, as White was called for the first of the team’s three technicals.
“We just didn’t respond the way we needed to,” she said. “And that physicality, if you don’t respond to it, you get frustrated and then the fouls come in.”
The Gaels (22-10) had four players score in double figures. Stella Beck had a double-double with 12 points and 10 boards.
Raven Fox led the Bulldogs with 22 points, six assists, three steals and two rebounds before fouling out with just over 2 minutes remaining. Senior forward Alex Sheedy finished with three points and five rebounds. Junior forward Moriah Faulk was the only other Bulldog in double figures, scoring 13 points.
“It’s frustrating to end that way,” White added. “Saint Mary’s played well. They won the game, but it’s sad to see your seniors not play all that well.”