Feb. 22, 2014
By Jason Clay
By Jason Clay
FRESNO, Calif. - Taylor Thompson swished a floater in the middle of the paint as time expired to lift the Fresno State women's basketball team to a come-from-behind 72-70 victory over Utah State on Saturday in the Save Mart Center.
After trailing by 10 with 4:47 to play, the Bulldogs (16-10, 10-5 Mountain West) climbed their way back into the game and led by three after a layup by Raven Fox with 25 seconds left on the clock. Utah State (11-15, 5-10 MW) came down and guard Jennifer Schlott, who scored 35 points on the afternoon, knocked down a 3-pointer to tie the game with seven seconds remaining.
Thompson took the inbounds pass under her own basket, dashed up the center of the court and was met by two defenders at the top of the 3-point line. Hesitating for a split second, Thompson was able to work her way around the Aggie defenders and into the lane where her leaning floater from the middle of the paint hit nothing but the bottom of the net to give Fresno State the victory.
"I just said I'm going to take the best shot that I can get or I'm going to get it to someone who has the best shot for them," Thompson said. "I prayed when the shot went up and it went in, so it was good for us."
The bucket, which capped off a strong game for the senior as Thompson finished with 16 points, eight assists and five steals, completed what was a furious comeback for the Bulldogs.
"What a great game for our team and a great game for an incredible crowd, our Red Wave was amazing tonight," said head coach Raegan Pebley, who picked up the 150th win over her coaching career and it came against the school she coached for nine seasons before coming to Fresno State in 2012.
In a game of runs, the Bulldogs were in a 10-point hole with 4:47 remaining.
Fox quickly cut that down to six with a layup and two free throws in just over a minute. Thompson, after her fourth steal of the game, converted a layup at 3:07 to make it a four-point game, 65-61.
Then after a turnover by Schlott, Thompson found Bree Farley at the top of the key and she knocked down a 3-pointer to cut the lead down to one.
Schlott answered at 2:17 to push Utah State's lead back up to three, but Farley came right back with four points over the next two minutes to give Fresno State the lead, first with a jumper on the baseline and then with a pair of free throws. Her last free throw put Fresno State up 68-67 with 57 ticks left on the clock.
"Bree had a big three at the end of the game when we were trying to come back and she got herself to the foul line at the end there," Pebley said.
Thompson then forced Schlott into another turnover with her fifth steal that led to Fox's layup to give Fresno State the 70-67 lead. Schlott, who was on fire all game and hit 14-of-24 shots, came right back to tie the game, setting up the stage for Thompson's game-winner.
"Jenn Sshlott is outstanding, she is an outstanding player and you can tell that she is really the leader and catalyst for that team in a lot of ways," Pebley said.
Fresno State led by as many as 14 behind eight early points from Farley in the first nine minutes of the game. Utah State climbed back into it and cut the Bulldogs' lead down to one, 35-34 at the half.
"Our coaches definitely spoke to us about it being a game of runs," said Farley, who scored a team-high 18 points on 6-of-12 shooting. "I think having confidence in our team, knowing that it is never over for us and I'm just so proud of our girls to really fight so hard that we were on the right side of the scoreboard this time."
After losing three games already in conference play by three points or less, Pebley was pleased to see her team pull through at the end in this close one.
"We needed a close win like that," she said. "We've had some painful, close losses and to win a close game like that will really help us as we head into the [conference] tournament."
Fox, like she was on Wednesday in the win over Wyoming, played a big role coming off the bench. She matched her career-high that she set against the Cowgirls by again scoring 13 points. She was 5-of-9 from the field and 3-for-3 at the free-throw line while also recording two steals.
The Bulldogs only shot 38.1 percent whereas Utah State shot 51.8 percent, but Fresno State forced the Aggies into 19 turnovers while only turning the ball over five times itself - a season-low.
"Catch the Wave" - ESPN2 790 AM is the home of the Fresno State women's basketball team.
|Email this article||Printer-friendly format|