Bulldogs Do It Again. Heading to the Big Dance
March 16, 2013
By Jason Clay
By Jason Clay
Fresno State (24-8) has now won its conference tournament championship in five out of the last six seasons and advances on to its sixth-straight NCAA Tournament.
"Oh, it was so fun. That's my thoughts. So fun," a smiling head coach Raegan Pebley said in the post-game press conference. "I'm really, really happy for these girls, that their story didn't end. In the end, we're so grateful we were able to pull off the win."
Fresno State led by as many as 22 points in this game, but it didn't start out well and much like the semifinal win over Wyoming the night before, the ending was filled with suspense.
San Diego State (26-6), who entered the game having won 17-straight games, opened up 15-6 lead in the first six minutes of the game and looked like they would blow right past the Bulldogs.
Fresno State, sparked initially by 3-point shooting from Rosie Moult and a career-night from Alex Sheedy, righted the ship for the Bulldogs. Fresno State went on a 23-0 run over the last two minutes of the first half and the first four minutes of the second half to get that 22 point lead.
"We needed to keep our composure because we knew San Diego State is a great team, they were going to come out hard," Moult said. "We had to make sure we were still being tough and physical on defense, and creating shots on offense, and we did that well."
San Diego State, sparked by two big 3-pointers from Courtney Clements, proceeded to come back with a 16-2 run to cut the Bulldog lead down to eight with 10:47 left on the clock. Ki-Ki Moore's penetration into the lane got her to the free throw line twice and then a driving layup from Bree Farley at 4:25 gave the 'Dogs a little cushion with a 71-59 lead.
In the Wyoming game on Friday, Fresno State didn't score in the last four minutes, blowing an eight-point lead before Moore's game-winning shot with 2.5 seconds remaining. On Saturday, SDSU was able to cut that 71-59 lead down to two before a big mistake from Aztec guard Chelsea Hopkins saved the Bulldogs.
Hopkins fouled Sheedy attempting a 3-pointer with 49 seconds remaining and Sheedy hit all three free throws to put the 'Dogs up by five and effectively seal the win.
"The girls had to believe in themselves," Pebley said. "That's absolutely how we won this game, is their belief and absolute will and determination."
Moore was named the MVP of the tournament, as she posted a double-double of 22 points and 11 rebounds, seven of which were on the offensive glass.
"Just to come to a new conference, to win the championship after splitting the regular season with them, them being the defending champions, I think it's excitement for our team and coaches as well," Moore said.
Sheedy, who was named to the All-Tournament Team with Moore, scored a career-high 21 points and had six rebounds in what was the best game of her young career. She found a way to get open all night, never more important than in the final minute when she was fouled attempting the 3-pointer. Sheedy was 6-for-14 from the field, 4-of-6 from 3-point land and hit all five of her free throws Saturday.
"We knew that Bree and Alex Sheedy were going to have to be big in this game," Pebley said. "They were going to have catch and shoot three's, get to attack off the dribble, or continue to attack and to handoffs and what we call at action.
"They knew coming into this game that we were going to have those opportunities. Kudos to them for taking advantage of it."
Fresno State turned the ball over a season-low seven times in the game, as it was very efficient on offense, especially during the 23-0 run when it hit 9-of-13 shots in that six-minute span.
Junior guard Taylor Thompson had seven of Fresno State's 17 assists in the game and the Bulldogs were 17-of-18 at the free-throw line. Moult finished with 14 points, four three-pointers and eight rebounds. Farley had 13 points and always seemed to get a big bucket whenever the Bulldogs needed to answer the Aztecs.
Fresno State will learn its fate on who it will be playing in the NCAA Tournament on Monday when the Selection Show airs live on ESPN at 4 p.m. PT.
"Discover Fresno State Athletics" - ESPN2 790 AM is the home of the Fresno State women's basketball team.