It took a few minutes, but Fresno State found its rhythm in the first quarter and cruised to a 65-53 win in its preseason exhibition against Cal State East Bay on Friday at Save Mart Center.
Starting guard and sixth-year senior Alex Furr put the Bulldogs in front with back-to-back three-pointers – the second drawing a foul call, which she converted at the line for an 11-9 lead that Fresno State never relinquished.
“That really sparked the plug for us,” point guard Shauqunna Collins said. “That got us over the hump and back on track of playing Fresno State basketball.”
Fresno State starting lineup: Shauqunna Collins, Alex Furr, Toni Smith, Bego Faz Davalos and Breanne Knishka.
Collins followed with aggressive defense, nabbing four of her team-high five steals in the first and second quarters. She also sparked multiple fast breaks for the Bulldogs, who scored 31 points off turnovers and 10 on fast breaks.
Collins shot 5 of 13 for 13 points and had three assists.
Collins and Furr started with Toni Smith, Bego Faz Davalos and freshman Breanne Knishka, who scored Fresno State’s first points – a three-pointer from the baseline corner.
Smith worked primarily in the post but showed her range by dropping a pair of mid-range jumpers down the baseline for a game-high 17 points. She shot 8 of 12 to go with three rebounds and three steals.
17 Game-high points for the Bulldogs’ Toni Smith
Davalos added seven points, five boards and four blocks. Furr finished with 11 points, shooting 3 of 5 from the field, including 2 of 3 from long range.
Seniors Brittany Aikens and Moriah Faulk and junior transfer Kendra Martin saw considerable time off the bench, playing 23, 10 and 17 minutes, respectively.
Aikens dished a game-high six assists to go with six points and six rebounds, impressing second-year coach Jaime White, who said she was “very pleased” with her team’s performance.
We have a new group. It’s a different day, different team, and for the most part, I thought we did well.
Fresno State coach Jaime White
She added that the Bulldogs must improve at the free-throw line (Bulldogs made 9 of 15) and would like to collect 40-plus rebounds a game. They finished with 32 rebounds (11 offensive, 21 defensive).
“There were some breakdowns, but you kind of want those so you can learn from them,” White added. “Some of these kids just haven’t played, so we have to get them some time where they can and hopefully build on that.”
The Pioneers were led by Laci Effenberger’s 13 points, including three three-pointers.
Both teams experienced frustration with the new rules, playing too physical for the officials’ liking. The Bulldogs committed 21 fouls to the Pioneers’ 16.
“The rules change so much that it’s hard to be physical because you have to be so precise,” Smith said. “It’s going to to take awhile, hopefully not too long, to get used to how the physicality can go now.”
Fresno State opens the regular season at UC Riverside at 4 p.m. Nov. 13. The Bulldogs return to Save Mart Center to Nov. 17 against Fresno Pacific.
- Nov. 13, 4 p.m. at UC Riverside