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Fresno State's student-run newspaper

The Collegian

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Fresno State women’s basketball loses to top seed in conference

Bulldog+forward%2C+Bineta+Diatta+looks+up+to+shoot+in+the+Save+Mart+Center+on+Feb.+10.
Jacqueline Carrillo/The Collegian
Bulldog forward, Bineta Diatta looks up to shoot in the Save Mart Center on Feb. 10.

The Fresno State women’s basketball team was soundly defeated 63-49 by the University of Nevada, Las Vegas on Saturday, Feb. 10, in an afternoon match-up at the Save Mart Center. It may be the only time the two teams face off this season, barring a potential meeting at the Mountain West Tournament. Bulldog freshman guard Taija Santa Maria led the ‘Dogs in scoring with 11 points, followed by forward Mia Jacobs with 6 points and guard Keeley Brown, who had four.

From the tipoff, the ‘Dogs faced an uphill battle until Santa Maria broke the deadlock with a free throw followed by a 3-point jumper. 

The ‘Dogs struggled to find the basket again until Jacobs scored another 3-point jumper with an assist from guard Franka Wittenberg just 32 seconds before the end of the first quarter, leaving the score 16-9.

The ‘Dogs battled with the Lady Rebel defense for another scoreless run. 

Four minutes into the second quarter, Wittenberg made a layup. After some substitutions, the ‘Dogs scored again with more layups by forward Bineta Diatta, forward Tamia Stricklin and Wittenberg, cutting the deficit to 27-20.

Bulldog forward, Kylee Fox passes the ball in the Save Mart Center on Feb. 10. (Jacqueline Carrillo/The Collegian)

The Lady Rebels quickly regained momentum after the brief surge. The ‘Dogs capitalized on turnovers and free throws, but UNLV matched them point-for-point. 

Forward Sydney Dethman’s second-chance layup for Fresno State was met with a sharp 3-point jumper by UNLV forward Nneka Obiazor. 

Lady Rebel forward Alyssa Durazo-Frescas and Obiazor extended the lead with key shots. The quarter ended with UNLV leading 48-36.

Fresno State failed to recover their energy and fell further behind, trailing behind 19 points two minutes into the final quarter. UNLV guard Ashley Scoggin and guard Kiara Jackson scored early, with Jackson hitting a crucial 3-pointer off a turnover. 

Fresno State guard Malaya LeSueur responded with consecutive layups, including one off a turnover along with a free throw. 

Obiazor continued to show her scoring prowess with a jumper, but Santa Maria quickly responded with a 3-point jumper of her own off a turnover. The game was capped off with Jacobs scoring a layup off another turnover 19 seconds before the buzzer.

Head Coach Jaime White thought her team did well overall but admitted her team “let them get too many rebounds” in the first half. 

UNLV snagged a total of 44 rebounds compared to Fresno State’s 28.

“We got out-rebounded and just didn’t match their physicality,” White said. “We didn’t score when we needed to, and we didn’t get stops when we did score, so we would score, they would score, and we kind of matched baskets.”

White also highlighted the need to improve their scoring. The Lady Rebels shot 43.5% from the field, while the ‘Dogs managed 33.9%.

“We got to knock down shots. We just got to keep working on those shots and keep working on when people are physical,” White said. “If they shut down one player, we’ve got to make sure we’re stepping up in another area.”

Santa Maria agreed with White’s assessment.

 “I think our team did a great job of that today,” Santa Maria said. “Sometimes we kind of got it offensively, and defensively, we gave up awards, a lot of things in the paint. That’s something that we can learn from and work towards just fighting back, especially when we’re not converting on offense as much.”

UNLV remains first in the Mountain West standings with a 10-1 record in conference play, while Fresno State drops to 4-8. 

Fresno State has five games left in the season. It hits the road again to take on the Air Force Falcons on Wednesday, Feb. 14. Tipoff is set for 5:30 p.m.

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