Rams battered by Bulldogs behind White’s scoring efforts

Luke Zahlmann

If last season taught Ryun Williams anything, it’s that the key to stopping Fresno State was preventing guard Candice White from finding a groove.

In the two teams’ regular-season meetings last year, White averaged 26.5 points per game, both 11-point victories for the Bulldogs. In the postseason, Williams’ squad held White to a mere eight points en route to a 71-55 win in the Mountain West tournament’s first round.

Ad

The results resembled the former on Saturday as White accumulated 28 points on 9-of-15 from the field en route to the Bulldogs’ second conference win in as many tries, 66-55.

“Candice is just a special player,” Williams said. “You’ve gotta be more aware of where she’s at. We lost her a handful of times in that first half and she made us pay right out of the gate.”  

White’s success notwithstanding, the Rams, the best team in the conference in opposing field goal percentage, allowed the Bulldogs various open looks early. With those looks, the visitors made four of their first five 3-point attempts in the first quarter. White accounted for a pair of her own.

While their own iteration of zone defense faltered, the Rams’ opponent posed an identical challenge. The problem for the Rams was the increased success the Bulldogs found in their use of the full-court press.

“I think everyone was kind of frustrated about what was happening. Our energy was just low and that’s something I think we could’ve controlled.”Tatum Neubert

Outside of Lore Devos, the Rams scored only four points in the first quarter, turning the ball over six times in the process, 16 times in the game. In the first half’s entirety, the Ram only scored 13 points, shooting 5-of-25 from the field with a lone make from outside.

“I think no matter what, we need to start the game like we finished the game,” Mollie Mounsey said. “Coach really pushed us at halftime and I think we responded to that.”  

Buoying the Bulldogs’ 23-point lead at the half were respective runs in both the first and second stanzas.

In the opening period, the Bulldogs went on a 14-2 run over a 4:56 span, with the run reaching 11-0 at its onset. The latter run came over a 7:41 span, a 12-3 run. White had a hand in both sprees, scoring 16 in the first half alone, already doubling her total from the Bulldogs’ tournament loss.

With a double-digit lead, the Bulldogs swarming ways continued into the second half, pressing and looking to trap on each possession.

Whether it was players laying on the floor after losing the ball, shaking of heads after defensive lapses or heated interactions between players, the Rams looked defeated for much of the opening moments.

Ad

“Fresno is a great team, but I think it was internal today,” Tatum Neubert said. “I think everyone was kind of frustrated about what was happening. Our energy was just low and that’s something I think we could’ve controlled.”

Sans the frustration, Williams view of the teams’ effort was a direct juxtaposition between halves, with the second serving as what he feels is the real Rams.

“I’m proud of the group that was in there at the end, the second half was good,” Williams said. “First half, who knows what was going through (the players) heads …We were totally brain-dead there in that first half.”

In the final 20 minutes, the Rams outscored the Bulldogs 42-30, with a winning margin in each respective quarter.

Leading the second-half charge for the Rams were both Mollie Mounsey and Lena Svanholm. Once the team was able to breach midcourt, in turn bypassing the full-court press put forth by the Bulldogs, there were open shot opportunities, with the pair taking advantage. 

Mollie Mounsey drives past the Fresno State defense during the Rams’ game against Fresno State Jan. 5. Despite a late comeback effort the Rams fell to the Bulldogs 66-55. (Ashley Potts | Collegian)

Mounsey tallied 11 points in the second half, with Savnaholm accumulating 10 points of her own.

The late charge proved all for naught as the Rams failed to overcome their woes early, succumbing to Whites’ late charge that included 12 points in the fourth quarter alone.

After their two-game homestand to begin their conference slate, the Rams will head south to play the Air Force Academy on Wednesday night, followed by a Jan. 12th matinee bout with New Mexico.

“Individually, (our players) gotta be ready to go,” Williams said. “We’ll see what mindset they bring to the floor at Air Force. I know what we’ll challenge them to do… We just have to be able to rely on the whole unit, not two or three kids.”

Collegian Sports Director Luke Zahlmann can be reached at sports@collegian.com or on Twitter @lukezahlmann.