Fresno State got the jump on visiting Air Force – and then some.
The Bulldogs led by 18 after a quarter and cruised to a 70-46 blowout win Saturday afternoon in front of 1,545 fans at Save Mart Center.
Fresno State (11-7, 7-0) won its seventh in a row in the Mountain West and took a half-game lead on Colorado State (16-1, 6-0), which had the day off.
Defense set the pace, as the Bulldogs forced six turnovers in the opening period and limited the Falcons (0-18, 0-7) to 2-of-12 shooting from the field.
Fresno State worked the inside game offensively, with 40 of its points coming in the paint, and took the battle on the glass 45-28.
Redshirt sophomore center Bego Faz Davalos got her ninth double-double of the season, finishing with 12 points and 11 rebounds to go with six blocks and four assists. Senior forward Toni Smith added 11 points and nine boards.
I’m happy but I’m not surprised because we’re really a good team so it’s something that we’ve been working on and we need to be focused on it. Like we cannot expect it, we need to work for it.
Bego Faz Davalos, on Fresno State’s seven-game win streak and first-place standing in the Mountain West
But it was freshman Breanne Knishka who opened up for the Bulldogs, setting a career-high with 15 points – 12 in the first half – while hitting 3 of 6 three-point attempts. It was the best shooting night of her young career, as she continues to show a higher comfort level with the ball.
The 5-foot-10 forward/guard out of Cashmere High in Washington hit the go-ahead three-pointer with 31 seconds left in Fresno State’s 54-49 win over San Diego State on Wednesday.
“The last shot from the last game kind of gave me a little more confidence,” Knishka said. “It was a good win. I think that the whole team is really focused and everyone is on the same page.”
Bego Faz Davalos’ nine double-doubles are the most in the Mountain West and tied for No. 21 in the country.
Brittany Aikens started at point guard in place of Shauqunna Collins, who was dressed but did not play because of team-policy issues, according to coach Jaime White. Collins, the team’s second-leading scorer at 10.9 per game, will be available Wednesday at Wyoming, White said.
Aikens finished with 10 points in the senior’s second career start at point guard, the first coming Dec. 8 against Stanislaus State.
The rout also allowed second-year coach White to give her younger Bulldogs some more playing time, with freshman newcomers Candice White, Raven Johnson and Zaria Branch getting ample minutes.
White finished with five points and four rebounds in 20 minutes.
4 Bulldogs with double-digit scoring: Breanne Knishka 15, Bego Faz Davalos 12, Toni Smith 11 and Brittany Aikens 10.
Juniors Emilie Volk and Anais Kirvan played 16 and 9 minutes off the bench.
“I was excited to see Anais and Bego play together because that’s something we want to look at for next year,” White said of Kirvan, who at 6-2 would help form a formidable presence with the 6-3 Faz Davalos. “Candice did a good job. She seemed comfortable, especially with the start of the game and that’s positive because we have that core group that’s a little bit young.”
The Bulldogs came out slow to start the second half – uncharacteristic compared to their previous six games – and the Falcons scored nine in a row to cut their deficit to 15.
Really our focus was about defense today and I think we did a pretty good job.
Fresno State coach Jaime White
Fresno State woke up after going scoreless for the first 6:30, getting consecutive layups from Davalos and Smith. The lead grew to as many as 29 as the Bulldogs improved to 8-0 in the all-time series.
The Falcons were led by Cortney Porter and Taylor Parker, who each finished with 11 points and three rebounds.
“Really our focus was about defense today,” White said, “and I think we did a pretty good job.”
FRESNO STATE AT WYOMING
- Wednesday: 6 p.m. at Arena-Auditorium in Laramie
- Records: Bulldogs 11-7, 7-0 Mountain West; Cowgirls 10-8, 3-5 (lost 58-49 at Boise State)
- More inside: Refer goes here refer goes here refer goes here. 7C