Fresno State

Fresno State women’s basketball: ’Dogs at lowly Air Force with eye on leader

Fresno State’s Toni Smith, left, turns toward the hoop against Wyoming’s Natalie Baker on Wednesday, Feb. 17 at Save Mart Center. Smith went on to score a career-high 21 points as Fresno State won 65-52. She also was instrumental in the Bulldogs’ 67-61 win at Utah State over the weekend. As a result of her efforts, Smith was named the Mountain West’s player of the week Monday.
Fresno State’s Toni Smith, left, turns toward the hoop against Wyoming’s Natalie Baker on Wednesday, Feb. 17 at Save Mart Center. Smith went on to score a career-high 21 points as Fresno State won 65-52. She also was instrumental in the Bulldogs’ 67-61 win at Utah State over the weekend. As a result of her efforts, Smith was named the Mountain West’s player of the week Monday. ckohlruss@fresnobee.com

Fresno State’s postseason map will become more detailed as the end of the regular season nears, but the Bulldogs will get a good glimpse Wednesday night at last-place Air Force.

The Bulldogs (16-9, 12-2) sit in second place in the Mountain West standings, two games behind unbeaten Colorado State (24-1, 14-0), with four games to go.

The Bulldogs still have a chance to catch the Rams, who are gaining national attention after debuting at No. 25 in the Associated Press media and USA Today coaches’ polls as they close in on their third straight MW regular-season title.

The Rams on Wednesday travel to New Mexico (14-11, 7-7) for arguably their toughest test yet, returning to The Pit where the Lobos mauled them 67-40 last February.

At the same time Wednesday, the Bulldogs will be tipping off against the Falcons (1-25, 1-14) in Colorado Springs.

With a victory, the Bulldogs will finish no worse than second in the regular season. Combined with a Colorado State loss, the Bulldogs would be one game back in the conference race with the chance to force a tie in their March 1 game at Colorado State.

With a Fresno State loss and a Colorado State win Wednesday, the Rams would clinch a share of the Mountain West regular-season title.

Fresno State has won three in a row, largely due to a surge from forward Toni Smith, who was named the Mountain West player of the week Monday. She’s the second Bulldogs to receive the honor this season, joining fellow post player Bego Faz Davalos.

Smith scored a career-high 21 points as Fresno State erased a 16-point deficit to beat Wyoming (65-52) last week and had a double-double (15 points, 12 rebounds) in a 67-61 win against Utah State on Saturday.

Smith has gotten into rhythm since the conference season began, scoring in double figures in 12 of the 14 games. She is the team’s top scorer in conference play at 12.7 points per game.

The Falcons lost 70-46 at Fresno State earlier this season. They’re led by sophomore guard Cortney Porter, who is averaging 10.9 points, 3.9 rebounds and 3.6 assists per game.

Angel Moreno: 559-441-6401, @anhelllll

Up next

FRESNO STATE 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)
  • Series: Fresno State leads 8-0
  • Last meeting: Bulldogs won 70-46 in Fresno.
  • Webcast: Mountain West Network (themwc.com)
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