Fresno State remained balanced even amid foul trouble, outlasting Utah State’s second-half surge and escaping with a 67-61 win Saturday afternoon at the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum.
It was the third win in a row for the Bulldogs (16-9, 12-2), virtually locking up the No. 2 seed for the Mountain West Conference women’s basketball tournament.
Colorado State held off Wyoming 62-57 to remain unbeaten in league at 14-0 and improve to 24-1 overall with four games remaining in the regular season. Third-place Boise State (16-9, 9-5) was on a bye.
The Bulldogs came out firing against the Aggies (11-14, 6-8), unleashing five three-pointers while building a 14-point first-quarter lead.
Brittany Aikens got her team in rhythm, making two threes in the first two minutes to set off the chain reaction.
Senior Alex Furr followed with two triples, the second just 3:13 into the game for a nine-point Bulldogs lead while also climbing into ninth on the school’s career list for three-pointers.
“I knew after I got one I’d be good and wouldn’t think about it anymore,” Furr said. “It feels great to be in the top 10. If you would’ve asked me if I could make the top 10 as a freshman, I would’ve said ‘No way.’ ”
“I’m thankful to have the teammates that I’ve had. I wouldn’t be in the position I am today if it wasn’t for my teammates and good passes.”
She entered Saturday with 123, one behind Geri Gainey and Bailey Amundsen who had shared ninth. Furr finished 3 for 6 to move within 21 of the next person on the list, 2006 graduate Chantella Perera. Jalessa Ross holds the record at 389.
Furr’s final three-pointer came two minutes into the second quarter, putting the Bulldogs up 33-14 – their largest lead of the night.
The long-range barrage was the right salve for Fresno State, which was dealt an early blow to its inside game. Sophomore center Bego Faz Davalos was whistled for two fouls in the opening three minutes and sat out the rest of the half.
Faz Davalos returned strongly in the second half, closing out the third quarter with three consecutive layups to fend off a surging Aggies squad led by Funda Nakkasoglu.
Nakkasoglu, the conference’s leading scorer at 21.8 points per game, hit a jumper with 3:38 to go in the fourth to cut the Bulldogs’ lead to 59-57.
The comeback ended there as Fresno State’s post play had it covered: Faz Davalos banked a 17-foot jumper off the glass and Toni Smith followed with a layup before their teammates sealed it at the charity stripe.
Smith led the Bulldogs with 15 points and 12 rebounds for her second double double of the season. She has scored in double figures 15 times this season, including each of the past three games.
“It’s a good team win,” coach Jaime White said. “I think it’s nice to have our inside and outside game hitting on all cylinders.”
“This was a big game for us as it’s our third game in a run without a day off,” she added. “It feels good to be going through this week feeling like ourselves.”
Nakkasoglu had a game-high 22 points, hitting 7 of 7 from the free-throw line, as Utah State dropped its third game in a row.
VS. AIR FORCE
- Wednesday: 6 p.m. at Clune Arena
- Records: Bulldogs 16-9, 12-2 Mountain West; Falcons 1-25, 1-14 (lost 58-36 at New Mexico on Saturday)
- Last meeting: Bulldogs won 70-46 in Fresno.
- Webcast/radio: Mountain West Network (themwc.com)