Fresno State Beats Santa Clara in WNIT First Round

 

Courtesy of Fresno State Athletics

FRESNO, Calif. – In a defensive stranglehold that saw 42 combined turnovers, it was Fresno State that earned a trip to second round of the Women’s National Invitation Tournament on Friday night at the Save Mart Center with a 59-53 victory over Santa Clara. The ‘Bulldogs held a decisive 24-8 edge in points off turnovers after forcing the Broncos into 25 on the night which played a key role in the ‘Dogs keeping the visitors at bay.

Against a bigger, rangier team that out-rebounded Fresno State by 13, it was the tallest player on the court, 6-foot-3 Bego Faz Davalos that was crucial in the ‘Dogs defeating an aggressive Bronco zone defense. The Bulldog sophomore posted her fourth 20-point of the season with 21 on 8-of-12 shooting to go along with seven rebounds, seven blocks, five steals and three assists in 37 minutes. Faz Davalos now sits just four blocks away from tying Simone Srubek’s single-season program record for blocks (138). With her final rebound of the game, the sophomore also tied Omelogo Udeze’s single-season rebound record at Fresno State (308).

In a first quarter that saw aggressive defenses forcing turnovers on both ends of the court to keep the game close, Fresno State gave itself some breathing room in the second 10 minutes. After Moriah Faulk gave the ‘Dogs a four-point lead to end the first, Fresno State opened the second with a 10-2 run to take a 27-15 advantage less than four minutes in as the Bulldogs forced four turnovers during the stretch. The Broncos responded with a 6-0 spurt out of timeout during the ensuing five minutes as their defensive pressure picked back up. Alex Furr then dropped in a 3-pointer with a minute to play to give the home side a nine-point edge while ending the drought.

Holding a 10-point advantage midway through the third quarter, Fresno State began to see Santa Clara start to chip away at its lead. A 6-0 run pulled the Broncos within four with three-and-a-half minutes remaining in the quarter, and SCU eventually crept within three with 10 minutes to play in the game.

After Shauqunna Collins knocked down a 13th and 14th points of the night at the free throw line with 6:50 on the clock to give Fresno State a 50-46 lead, Marie Berthholdt scored six of the game’s next eight points as the Broncos pulled level at 52-52 with just under four minutes to play. It was then Faz Davalos’ chance to answer at both ends for the Bulldogs. The sophomore provided five of the Bulldogs’ final seven points, two steals and a block during final minutes to push Fresno State ahead for good.

After a grueling defensive battle, the Bulldogs will now turn their attention their second round matchup at Oregon on Monday at 6 p.m. PT. The Ducks hit 14 3-pointers in their first round game against Long Beach State, a stark contrast from the two that Fresno State allowed on Friday to Santa Clara. The game will stream live Pac-12.com.