Women’s basketball: Big second half lifts Fresno State
A monster game by a former county prep standout wasn’t enough to spoil one of the best second halves of the season for the Fresno State women’s basketball team.
The Bulldogs (8-5), in their final tuneup before Mountain West Conference play, rang up 43 points in the final 20 minutes and beat host Cal State Bakersfield 77-68 Thursday night.
It was the second-best half in terms of points this season for the Bulldogs. They scored 51 in a Nov. 30 home win over Washington State. And it was their highest on the road, where they have struggled to a 2-5 record.
Taylor Thompson, returning after a one-game absence because of an illness, scored a career-high 23 points and Ki-Ki Moore added 21.
The duo helped negate a 21-point night for former Clovis West High star Janae Coffee, a 6-foot-4 sophomore transfer from Long Beach State who hit 8 of 13 from the field and was 5 for 5 on free throws for the Roadrunners (2-15).
Coffee added nine rebounds and six blocks. She scored 29 in a season-opening exhibition win over Fresno Pacific.
Red-hot shooting paved the way for the Bulldogs’ big second half. They hit 12 of 21 shots — including 5 of 8 3-pointers. Moore and Thompson combined to go 14 for 25.
Thompson also had eight assists, six rebounds and five steals, and a third starter, Rosie Moult, was 8 of 8 on free throws and had 15 points.
“We took care of the ball extremely well in the second half — only two turnovers — and I think those three had quite a bit to do with that,” coach Raegan Pebley said.
Fresno State took a 34-29 lead into the locker room after a surge midway through the first half had pushed the Bulldogs ahead by double digits.
A 14-3 run, capped by Thompson’s layup with 9:49 remaining in the half, made it 23-13.
The lead was nine, at 32-23, in the final 3 minutes of the half after Moore’s three-point play, but the Bulldogs missed a couple of chances to kick it back up to 10 or more and Coffee scored four straight on a pair of free throws and a tip-in.
Moore hit two free throws to make it 34-27, but Cebrina Johnson scored inside with 12 seconds left in the half.
Fresno State will play its sixth straight on the road on Wednesday, when it begins its inaugural MWC season at San Diego State.
UP NEXT: FRESNO STATE AT SAN DIEGO STATE
Wednesday: 7 p.m. in the Mountain West Conference opener
Records: Bulldogs 8-5, Aztecs 9-4
Of note: San Diego State, with 22 first-place votes, and rookie MWC member Fresno State (two) were picked 1-2 in the conference preseason poll.