Fresno State is back on its home court for the next two games, hoping a familiar floor will help it shake off a lackluster February that knocked the team out of the lead in the Mountain West Conference women’s basketball race.
The Bulldogs (13-9, 9-2) are coming off a 65-54 double-overtime loss at San Diego State and have lost two of three this month heading into a 2 p.m. game Sunday against Nevada (4-18, 3-8).
It started Feb. 3 when San Jose State ended Fresno State’s eight-game winning streak, dealing the Bulldogs a 66-64 loss that knocked them out of a first-place tie with fellow conference unbeaten Colorado State.
The Bulldogs got back to winning with a 57-52 victory at UNLV, but slipped in a mistake-riddled loss to the Aztecs on Wednesday.
As a result, Fresno State is two back in the loss column to Colorado State (22-1, 12-0) with seven left in the regular season. The Rams have six to play after beating UNLV 83-52 on Saturday. Boise State (16-8, 9-4) is next in the standings after an 82-58 loss at Wyoming.
For the third time in four years, the Bulldogs have won nine of their first 11 games to start MW play.
It has been an unfortunate couple of steps back for Fresno State, which again has national postseason tournament aspirations – and the better their seeding for the conference tournament, the easier it will be for the Bulldogs to complete that quest.
“When you’re chasing somebody that hasn’t lost, you can’t drop one, which we did,” coach Jaime White said.
Against the Aztecs, Fresno State had 24 turnovers, its most against a conference opponent this season, and missed six straight layups to start the second half. It spiraled into full-out disarray for the Bulldogs, who couldn’t squeeze out a win despite hanging around to force a second overtime.
Hopefully we can correct some things as we’re going into a two-game home stretch, which is nice to get us back on target and ready to go.
Bulldogs coach Jaime White
“Offensively we were lackadaisical,” White said. “We just had a lack of attention and that swirls into anxiety.
“We never got a rhythm in that game, and I guess you have games like that.”
White hopes the Bulldogs shake off their woes against the Wolf Pack, who figure to be hungry after losing three in a row.
Fresno State has won 15 of the last 17 meetings against the Wolf Pack. The Bulldogs lead the all-time series 37-12.
Fresno State won 67-59 on Jan. 6 in Reno. Toni Smith had a game-high 16 points and Bego Faz Davalos 14 to go with 10 rebounds.
The Wolf Pack are led by senior forward Nyasha Leasure, who is averaging 12.8 points and 6.1 rebounds. Junior guard Stephanie Schmid is averaging 11 points per game and leading her team from the three-point line with 45 makes out of 164 attempts (27.4 percent).
“Right now our job is to get better and right now that’s saying a lot,” White said. “But we think we can and we’ll finish out the season as strong as we can and win the tournament. That’s what we have to do and it’s really no different from what we’ve been doing all season.”
FRESNO STATE VS. NEVADA
- Sunday: 2 p.m. at Save Mart Center
- Records: Bulldogs 13-9, 9-2 Mountain West; Wolf Pack 4-18, 3-8 (lost 59-53 at Air Force on Wednesday)
- Series: Bulldogs lead 37-12
- Last meeting: Fresno State won 67-59 on Jan. 6 in Reno
- Webcast/radio: Mountain West Network (themwc.com)/KFPT (AM 790)
- Pink Game: Bulldogs will wear pink uniforms for breast cancer awareness; fans wearing pink get in free