Second-Half Surge Saves Dogs
Feb. 12, 2011
FRESNO, Calif. - With one month to go before the start of March Madness, the Fresno State women's basketball team picked the perfect time to show a new level of resiliency.
Despite laboring through one of their shakiest halves of the season, the Bulldogs managed to flip a switch and rally for an 81-63 win over Utah State at the Save Mart Center. The victory keeps Fresno State in second place in the WAC race and prevents the charging Aggies from making up more ground. Rosie Moult and Taja Edwards spearheaded the comeback and finished with 19 points apiece.
"We got to look at some of our faults in the first half and fix them," Bulldogs coach Adrian Wiggins said. "You just saw the tide turn."
And how. Fresno State (17-7, 8-2 WAC), which was celebrating National Girls and Women in Sports Day, trailed by as many as 12 points in the first half and faced a seven-point deficit at the break. But the team refused to become a victim of Utah State's surprising surge.
The Aggies (13-11, 7-4) came to Fresno having won five consecutive games and, in many circles, were regarded as the dark horse of the WAC.
They lived up to that reputation early, repeatedly getting under the Bulldogs' skin. Utah State used a 13-0 run to take a 29-17 lead with 4:59 to go in the first half. Fresno State committed an uncharacteristic 12 turnovers in the first 20 minutes, while the Aggies shot a blistering 64.3 percent from the floor.
But the rocky start was only temporary. The Bulldogs opened the second half with a 9-2 run and took the lead for good (44-42) on a jumper by senior guard Jaleesa Ross. Fresno State outscored Utah State 50-25 in the second half.
"We handled the ball a lot better in the second half," said Edwards, who finished with nine rebounds and just missed recording a double-double. "I think we just took better care of the ball; we were just more patient."
After recording back-to-back 30-point games, Ross had a rather understated afternoon, finishing with 13 points and four assists. That said, her performance was still historic.
Ross only hit one 3-pointer but it was enough to give her sole possession of the WAC record for 3-point field goals made. She now has 366 3s to her name, breaking Becky Hammon's 12-year-old mark of 365. With five steals, Ross also became Fresno State's all-time leader in that category, moving her career total to 229 thefts.
Senior forward Hayley Munro finished with 14 points, nine assists, seven rebounds and four steals. As a team, Fresno State had 25 assists.
"We Are Your Team!" -- Fresno State takes its show on the road with a visit to Boise State next week. For more information, visit Gobulldogs.com