FRESNO, Calif.- The Fresno State women’s basketball team opened WAC play in impressive fashion as the Bulldogs defeated Hawai’i 83-42 on Wednesday night at the Save Mart Center. The Bulldogs are 10-5 and 1-0 in WAC while the Rainbow Wahine dropped to 6-8. The victory is the largest margin of victory over Hawai’i in the series and it was the largest margin of victory for the Bulldogs in a WAC game.
“I was very pleased with the team effort tonight,” Fresno State coach Adrian Wiggins said. “I felt like we needed to come out and try and play two good halves and hopefully make a statement that we are ready for the WAC season. We know it is a long season but we want everyone to understand we are looking forward to it. We are embracing the challenges we have ahead.”
Jaleesa Ross led the Bulldogs with 18 points on 7 of 10 shooting and 4-of-5 shooting from the 3-point line. She had four assists and four steals. Hayley Munro had 12 points off the bench in 16 minutes. Joh-Teena Filipe led the Bulldogs in rebounding with eight.
Fresno State shot 52 percent from the floor while Hawai’i shot 36 percent from the field. The Bulldog defense forced 29 turnovers and had 21 assists. LaShay Fears had five assists to lead the Dogs.
“We had a great effort passing the ball,” Wiggins said. “Hawai’i mixed up their defenses a little bit but I thought we adjusted well. We kept great pressure on the ball tonight and I thought that really helped us create a lot of steals and contested shots for them. Overall I was very pleased offensively and defensively.”
The Bulldogs led the entire game and early in the first half the game was tied at nine with 13:33 left in the half. Fresno State then went on a 23-3 run to lead 32-12 with 6:13 left in the first half after a 3-pointer by Munro.
“We got out defensively and created some pressure which caused some turnovers,” Wiggins said. “I thought it got Hawai’i on their heels a bit. They started making a lot of sideline to sideline passes instead of looking to go to the goal. That allowed us to help and pressure more.”
Fresno State led 42-19 at halftime and extended the lead to 58-25 after two free throws by Taja Edwards with 13:45 left in the game. The biggest lead of the game was 41 twice in the final minutes of the contest.
“We came back out in the second half and really pressured for the most part,” Wiggins said. “We had good pressure and good help and that is who we have to be. I was very pleased with our defensive effort tonight.”
The Bulldogs return to the floor for a Saturday afternoon game at Idaho. Tipoff is at 3 p.m. The Bulldogs then play at New Mexico State on Wednesday, January 13 at 6 p.m.