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Fresno State's student-run newspaper

The Collegian

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Fresno State women’s basketball puts up triple digit win against UC Merced

Freshman+guard+Taija+Santa+Maria+looks+for+a+pass+against+UC+Merced+at+the+Save+Mart+Center+on+Nov.+11.+
Jacqueline Carrillo/The Collegian
Freshman guard Taija Santa Maria looks for a pass against UC Merced at the Save Mart Center on Nov. 11.

It’s not often that a freshman gets big minutes on a team, but for Fresno State freshman guard Taija Santa Maria, that is not the case. 

In the game against the University of California, Merced, she finished with 24 points, four rebounds, three assists and played 26 minutes. 

“She’s [Santa Maria] really well-rounded. Very efficient and makes very few mistakes. So when she does make a mistake you’re almost shocked, and she’s a freshman so I’m really excited about her,” Head Coach Jamie White said. 

The Bulldogs women’s basketball team played against the Bobcats at the Save Mart Center on Friday, Nov. 10.

The game got off to a dominant start by Fresno State, which started the game on a 9-0 run. The Bobcats then added four consecutive points for a score of 9-4. 

Lots of ball movement played in the Bulldogs’ favor as they extended their lead 25-14. Santa Maria closed out the first quarter with a layup in the paint. 

The second quarter started off aggressive on both ends of the court. The ‘Dogs were able to pull off more points than them, 28-19. 

In the fifth minute, Malaya LeSueur got a steal and then passed the ball to Bineta Diatta, extending the Bulldogs’ lead to 12 points.

Malaya LeSueur goes underneath the rim for a layup. (Jacqueline Carrillo/The Collegian)

Fresno State then cranked it up and went on a 16-3 run to finish up the first half. Kylee Fox and Santa Maria were the top scorers of the half as Fox had 13 points and Santa Maria had 14.

“Kylee Fox was really good early in knocking down those threes,” White said. 

Coming in from the half, UC Merced player Jazzy Beltran scored a 2-pointer and was fouled by the Bulldogs, allowing her to get to the line and score. 

The ‘Dogs responded with a 10-point run to give them their largest lead thus far, 62-29. The Bobcats scored and the Bulldogs followed with points of their own before both teams went on a scoring drought for over two minutes. 

The third quarter was closed off by four points from Fresno State, giving them a score of 76-40. 

The final quarter was opened up by Santa Maria with a layup that set the tone for the rest of the game. She had another two points right off of an opponent turnover. She added to her stat line with multiple defensive stops. 

Franka Wittenberg was then fouled and made her way to the line for two shots, giving the ‘Dogs an 83-43 lead. 

Bulldog forward Maria Konstantinidou pushes through defense for a rebound. (Jacqueline Carrillo/The Collegian)

The ‘Dogs continued to make points until UC Merced’s Sarina Nagra scored a 2-point jumper, making the score 87-45. 

Wittenberg then made a layup on a fast break, pushing Fresno State into the 90-point range. Most of the top scorers were then subbed out for the rest of the game. 

The game finished with a second chance layup from Benita Diatta, sealing the win for the Bulldogs over the Bobcats with a final score of 100-47. 

Coach White gave some credit to the UC Merced team for testing their offense.

“We knew that they were gonna come out and be aggressive and guard defensively and we were gonna have to execute offensively. So, there’s nothing better for a coach probably to see your team execute offensively,” White said. 

The ‘Dogs will stay in Fresno and face Pepperdine on Wednesday, Nov. 15. First whistle is at 5 p.m.

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