Fresno State's student-run newspaper

The Collegian

Fresno State's student-run newspaper

The Collegian

Fresno State's student-run newspaper

The Collegian

Haley Cavinder shoots the ball in the game against New Mexico on Feb. 23, 2022. (Julia Espinoza/ The Collegian)

Bulldog’s overcome five game slump with win over Lobos

Amiee Book’s season-high scoring performance led Fresno State’s women’s basketball team to a narrow 71-70 win over New Mexico Wednesday night. 

This performance was capped off with a go-ahead 3-pointer in the final minutes of the game. The shot marked Book’s 20th point of the night, and was just one of her six 3-pointers throughout the contest. 

The victory served as the team’s first win in their last six matchups, and could not have come at a better time as the team is two games away from the Mountain West Tournament. 

“I think it gives us really good confidence… As a coach you are always preaching that we’re going to get the next one, or we’re going to peak at the right time. I think a win like this helps my credit as a coach saying that,” Fresno State head coach Jamie White said.

The Bulldogs failed to score in two consecutive possessions late in the fourth quarter, but just as it seemed like New Mexico was going to put the game away, Book knocked down a 3-pointer with 2:41 remaining. 

The shot was her only score that quarter, but marked her sixth triple of the night and came in the form of Fresno State’s go-ahead score. 

“It’s a great feeling. My teammates had put me in position to be successful out there and I found my shot,” said Book. “We had talked about it all week and talked about me being ready. My coaches had been telling me to take the shots so I did that, and it worked for me tonight.” 

The Bulldogs key to winning was performing in the clutch, and they did this with the help of Haley Cavinder. 

While Book’s go-ahead 3-pointer served as the game’s most important shot, Cavinder led the Bulldogs through the late-game pressure by scoring six of her 25 points in the final six minutes of the game. 

Cavinder’s performance was not restricted to the fourth quarter however, as she began the game scoring the Bulldog’s first 8 points to give them a 8-4 lead.­

Book scored her first points of the game the very next possession with a long midrange jumper from the corner of the floor. 

After both teams traded multiple possessions, Cavinder knocked down her only 3-pointer of the game. This kicked off a scoring sequence for the Bulldogs where their final five scores of the quarter all came from beyond the arc. 

Three of these five 3-pointers came from Book, the last of which put Fresno State up 25-14 to end the quarter.­

Hanna Cavinder pushes her way through in the game against New Mexico on Feb. 23, 2022. (Julia Espinoza/ The Collegian)

As the second quarter began the Bulldogs kicked things off with a layup in the post by Imani Lacy. New Mexico responded the next possession with a quick layup, but Fresno State seemed to stunt their momentum with another of Book’s 3-pointers to give them a 15-point lead. 

After trading possessions multiple times, a Cavinder layup gave the Bulldogs a 32-17 lead, their largest of the night. 

Despite holding a 15-point lead over their opponent, Fresno State’s offense stalled, allowing New Mexico to chip away at their deficit. 

 The Lobos offense sparked with seven minutes left in the half, as they scored at will against a lagging Fresno State zone defense. It took New Mexico four minutes of game-time to pull within 1 point, with a Shaiquel McGruder layup cutting the Bulldog’s lead to 34-33. 

Daylee Dunn broke the Bulldog’s scoring skid with a 3-pointer as the shot clock went off, marking the first points for Fresno State in more than four minutes of game time. 

The teams spent the next two minutes battling defensively before New Mexico pulled within two off of a layup. The Lobos then finished the half by taking the lead through a 3-pointer with just four seconds left. 

Fresno State entered the second half trailing behind by 1 point, posing a familiar sight for the ‘Dogs after losing their previous five games by less than 10 points. However the Bulldogs never allowed New Mexico to gain more than a one-possession lead in the third quarter. 

The quarter included six lead changes and four ties as the teams battled through back-to-back scores. Cavinder scored on back-to-back possessions to give the Bulldogs several leads, but New Mexico responded both times and took a 2 point lead with one minute remaining. 

Lacy tied things up with a post-move layup as 23 seconds remained to tie the game as the period came to a close.­

Wytalla Motta makes a free throw in the game against New Mexico on Feb. 23, 2022. (Julia Espinoza/ The Collegian)

Entering the fourth quarter tied 56-56, Lacy put the Bulldogs on the board first with a transition layup to go up by two. Fresno State kept this narrow lead throughout the quarter until New Mexico’s Latascya Duff drew a foul on a 3-point shot and made all three of her free throws. 

Both teams traded multiple possessions for nearly two minutes of game time until the Lobos took a 68-66 lead off a layup with just three-and-a-half minutes remaining. 

Less than one minute later however, Cavinder finished in the paint with a contested layup. And on the next possession Book knocked down her clutch 3 point shot to give the Bulldogs a 71-68 lead. 

After the 3-pointer, New Mexico responded with a layup to cut the lead to 71-70. It was at this point where the Bulldog’s defense came alive, not allowing the Lobos to score again. 

With the ball in their hands and 40 seconds left, Fresno State attempted to run the clock down to as little time as possible, however this left New Mexico four seconds to create a game-winning shot. 

After multiple timeouts the Lobos’ LaTora Duff drove to the right side of the lower post but missed her fadeaway jumper as time expired. 

The win was much more than a normal conference win for the Bulldogs, it is a moral victory for a team that is only a couple games away from a shot at a Mountain West tournament title. 

“We were picked number one to win it [the Mountain West title] and I still think we can be number one. Any team in our conference on any given night can beat one another, so it’s going to be who wants it more at the end of the day,” Book said. 

The Bulldogs’ next matchup is their senior night where they host Air Force this Saturday, Feb. 26 at 2 p.m.­

The Bulldogs celebrate their win in the game against New Mexico on Feb. 23, 2022. (Julia Espinoza/ The Collegian)
Fresno State forward, Wytalla Motta, attempts to shoot in the game against New Mexico on Feb. 23, 2022. (Julia Espinoza/ The Collegian)
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