LAS VEGAS – Fresno State kept up the pressure at the defensive end on Friday in a 63-62 victory over Wyoming in a semifinal game at the Mountain West Conference Tournament, which is a bit of a misnomer because the Bulldogs pressure the length of the floor and not just at one end.
They had 14 steals, giving them 31 in two conference tournament games, tying a record set by San Diego State in three games in 2010. The Bulldogs and Aztecs will play for the championship on Saturday at 7 p.m. at the Thomas & Mack Center.
Ki-Ki Moore, the defensive player of the year in the conference, had five steals against Wyoming. Rosie Moult had three and Alex Sheedy and Robin Draper both had two.
‘’At times we’re really feisty,’’ point guard Taylor Thompson said. ‘’I like that about our team. We trust each other. We know that we can go for steals. If we don’t happen to get it, someone’s going to be behind our back helping us. So, you know, trust is a big thing. I think that’s why we’re allowed to get up in people and just, you know, play.’’
Moore has nine steals in the two tournament games and needs just three more in the championship to set a tournament record for steals by a player.
‘’We take a lot of chances trying to get steals,’’ she said. ‘’We play well off of each other. If we know one person doesn’t get it, we’re helping each other and having each other’s back.’’
In the two matchups this season with the Aztecs, Fresno State had nine steals in an 80-72 victory at San Diego State and eighth in a 74-49 loss at the Save Mart Center.
Fresno State has beaten Boise State and Wyoming despite getting outshot in both games. The Bulldogs made only 36.4% (28 of 77) while the Broncos hit 38.5% (20 of 52), and they hit only 37.5% (24 of 64) while the Cowboys made 47.1% (24 of 51).
At the 3-point line, the Bulldogs are just 10 of 43 (23.3%) in the two games.
Fresno State led through most of its victory over Wyoming – the Cowboys trailed through the second half until Kayla Woodward scored on a drive to the basket with 13 seconds remaining.
Coming back to win, Fresno State coach Raegan Pebley said, could have its benefits.
‘’Well, I think it’s a situation that we can build some confidence from,’’ she said. ‘’You never know when that situation is going to bring itself or happen again, so all these experiences add to their leadership and their experience.
‘’But, you know, I’ve seen Fresno State many years be in conference tournaments and win games in all different types of situations. I’ve seen them against our former team at Utah State down 21, come back and win a game, beat us. Seen them against Louisiana Tech in tight, close games, Bree Farley hitting an amazing shot, a running layup on the right side.
‘’So this team, we just needed to put them in a situation to be successful and they were going to find success.’’