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Lady Rebels Come Up Just Short In MW Semifinals

March 9, 2017

Box Score

W.G. Ramirez, Mountain West Writer LAS VEGAS --

UNLV PDF Box Score vs Fresno State

Fresno State had just two field goals over the last seven minutes of their semifinal showdown against UNLV in the Mountain West Women's Basketball Championship on Wednesday.

Those shots were all the seventh-seeded Bulldogs (18-14) would need down the stretch, as they eliminated the Lady Rebels to advance to Friday's championship game, where they will meet No. 4 seed Boise State for an automatic berth into the NCAA Tournament. It marks the first year since 2010 that neither of the top two seeds will play in the championship game.

"I thought we played another great defensive game," Fresno coach Jaime White said. "I feel like we've put three really good defensive games together on this run. Just proud of our bench, (it) came in and really gave us a lift. And kids that haven't played in a couple of games and they just never stopped believing and got in and did whatever they could to help the team."

UNLV headed into the final period ahead 41-40, and eventually opened its lead to 45-42 on Paris Strawther's inside move to the basket. The Bulldogs responded with a jumper from Emilie Volk, and a 3-pointer by Kristina Cavey, giving Fresno State a 47-45 lead with 7:32 left.

Brooke Johnson hit two of three free throws to tie the game with 7:01 left, then followed with a jumper to give the Rebels a two-point lead, 49-47. Dakota Gonzalez extended UNLV's lead to 51-47 at the 5:36 mark, but it would be the last points the Rebels would score.

"So we kind of survived in the first half and then come back, we did a good job getting the lead, (then) lost the lead, but we maintained our composure," White said. "And I thought in the second half a little bit different things that we needed but down the stretch our kids were just determined to win the game."

 

 

Down four, Candice White drained a 3-pointer to pull Fresno within one with 4:21 left in the game. Finally, after several defensive stops of the Lady Rebels, it was Bego Faz Davalos with an inside move for a lay-up for the last bucket of the game to provide the final margin.

Faz Davalos finished with 13 points and 10 rebounds, and now has 20 double doubles, which ties the Mountain West single-season record.

Freshman Kristina Cavey came off the bench to also score 13, while White finished with 11 points.

Fresno State, which is 12-2 in Mountain West tournament play, will play in its fourth championship game in five years. The Bulldogs are 2-1 in championship games. Last year they lost in the final seconds to Colorado State. As the No. 7 seed, Fresno State will represent the lowest seed ever to reach championship game.

"I've been saying all year that we're inexperienced and now I'm saying we have experience," White said. "We were here. We feel it. We're excited by it. We've played enough games in there (Thomas and Mack Center) that it's like our home court. And I think our kids are just young enough to just be having fun. And that's nice, as a head coach."

Brooke Johnson led the Rebels with 16 points, while Dylan Gonzalez had 14.

And for UNLV (22-10), the waiting game begins, as both coach Kathy Olivier and Johnson said after the game they believe the Lady Rebels deserve an invite to a postseason event.

"We've been talking about postseason all year, that's really been their focus," Olivier said. "And these ladies are really ... they were dialed into the NCAA. We played a non-conference schedule that was very competitive, beat a good USC team at the time, now they have injuries. Beat an Ole Miss team, an SEC team. We were rolling. We could have beat Oregon State, we had our point guard injured, that's when Nikki (Wheatley) got injured.

"Our mindset was postseason, postseason, and it was really thinking about the NCAA and we'd be more than happy to go to the WNIT and be very proud to represent the Mountain West in the WNIT." Those shots were all the seventh-seeded Bulldogs (18-14) would need down the stretch, as they eliminated the Lady Rebels to advance to Friday's championship game, where they will meet No. 4 seed Boise State for an automatic berth into the NCAA Tournament. It marks the first year since 2010 that neither of the top two seeds will play in the championship game.

"I thought we played another great defensive game," Fresno coach Jaime White said. "I feel like we've put three really good defensive games together on this run. Just proud of our bench, (it) came in and really gave us a lift. And kids that haven't played in a couple of games and they just never stopped believing and got in and did whatever they could to help the team."

UNLV headed into the final period ahead 41-40, and eventually opened its lead to 45-42 on Paris Strawther's inside move to the basket. The Bulldogs responded with a jumper from Emilie Volk, and a 3-pointer by Kristina Cavey, giving Fresno State a 47-45 lead with 7:32 left.

Brooke Johnson hit two of three free throws to tie the game with 7:01 left, then followed with a jumper to give the Rebels a two-point lead, 49-47. Dakota Gonzalez extended UNLV's lead to 51-47 at the 5:36 mark, but it would be the last points the Rebels would score.

"So we kind of survived in the first half and then come back, we did a good job getting the lead, (then) lost the lead, but we maintained our composure," White said. "And I thought in the second half a little bit different things that we needed but down the stretch our kids were just determined to win the game."

Down four, Candice White drained a 3-pointer to pull Fresno within one with 4:21 left in the game. Finally, after several defensive stops of the Lady Rebels, it was Bego Faz Davalos with an inside move for a lay-up for the last bucket of the game to provide the final margin.

Faz Davalos finished with 13 points and 10 rebounds, and now has 20 double doubles, which ties the Mountain West single-season record.

Freshman Kristina Cavey came off the bench to also score 13, while White finished with 11 points.

Fresno State, which is 12-2 in Mountain West tournament play, will play in its fourth championship game in five years. The Bulldogs are 2-1 in championship games. Last year they lost in the final seconds to Colorado State. As the No. 7 seed, Fresno State will represent the lowest seed ever to reach championship game.

"I've been saying all year that we're inexperienced and now I'm saying we have experience," White said. "We were here. We feel it. We're excited by it. We've played enough games in there (Thomas and Mack Center) that it's like our home court. And I think our kids are just young enough to just be having fun. And that's nice, as a head coach."

Brooke Johnson led the Rebels with 16 points, while Dylan Gonzalez had 14.

And for UNLV (22-10), the waiting game begins, as both coach Kathy Olivier and Johnson said after the game they believe the Lady Rebels deserve an invite to a postseason event.

"We've been talking about postseason all year, that's really been their focus," Olivier said. "And these ladies are really ... they were dialed into the NCAA. We played a non-conference schedule that was very competitive, beat a good USC team at the time, now they have injuries. Beat an Ole Miss team, an SEC team. We were rolling. We could have beat Oregon State, we had our point guard injured, that's when Nikki (Wheatley) got injured.

"Our mindset was postseason, postseason, and it was really thinking about the NCAA and we'd be more than happy to go to the WNIT and be very proud to represent the Mountain West in the WNIT."

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