Fresno State remains the top dog in Mountain West women’s basketball.
Colorado State (15-5, 7-2 MW) was unable to knock off the Bulldogs (17-3, 9-0 MW) Saturday afternoon as the Rams fell 53-49 on the road, staying in second place in the conference now two games behind Fresno State in the race for the regular season title.
High defensive pressure from the Bulldogs flummoxed the Rams into 21 turnovers, which Fresno State converted into 23 points.
“They applied great pressure, and at times we handled it well, and at times we didn’t,” CSU head coach Ryun Williams said.
CSU played similarly tough defense, holding FSU to just 24 percent shooting on the night while blocking seven shots along the way. Alex Sheedy, Fresno State’s leading scorer averaging nearly 16 points per game, made just 1-for-14 from the field and ended with nine points, going 6-for-6 from the free throw line.
Williams was shocked his team’s defensive effort failed to buy a win.
“There are not many games where you hold someone to 24 percent field goal shooting, 18 percent from the three, their leading scorer goes 1 of 14 and we’re sitting here with a loss,” Williams said.
But the Rams also failed to really find their groove on offense, shooting a below average 36 percent from the field.
CSU guard AJ Newton seemed hot out of the gate, scoring 11 points in the first half that included a five-minute stretch of her being the only Ram to make a field goal. Her run helped build a first half lead for CSU that reached as high as 11, 26-15. Newton finished with 13 points to lead the Rams.
Fresno State suffered an eight minute first half drought without a field goal, but stayed in the game with solid free throw shooting, going 10-12 in the first and 17-22 overall.
Raven Fox cut CSU’s lead to just six before the halftime buzzer with a last-second layup set up a by a steal. Fox led the Bulldogs with 15 points, four of which came down the stretch that were critical in bringing her team back for the win.
With 3:41 left to play and Colorado State up 44-43, Fox made two consecutive steals for fast break layups, leaving CSU down three. Alex Furr then hit a 3-pointer for the Bulldogs to push the score to 49-43. From there, Fresno State never looked back.
Gritt Ryder and Newton hit back-to-back layups to bring the game within two points with a minute to go, but Shauqunna Collins iced it down the stretch with two free throws that made it a two-possession game.
Ellen Nystrom made one more bucket to bring the Rams within two with three seconds remaining, but they were forced to foul Furr, who made two more at the line to seal the deal at 53-49.
Despite CSU winning the rebounding battle 46-41, Williams was unhappy with his team’s performance on the boards to start the second half. The Rams gave up 18 offensive rebounds, allowing for 10 second-chance Bulldog points.
“I thought we got off to a bad start the second half rebounding the basketball,” Williams stated.
The Rams come back home to play Wyoming in Moby Arena Wednesday.
“Our kids put themselves in a position to win, we just didn’t get it done tonight in the late game situations,” Williams admitted. “But we have a good basketball team in that locker room. They’ll respond. We need to have a short term memory, and we’ve got a Border War on Wednesday.”
Tipoff with the Cowgirls is set for 6 p.m. at Moby Arena.
Collegian Sports Reporter Sam Lounsberry can be reached firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter @samlounz.