Jaleesa Ross scored seven of her game-high 22 points in the final 3 minutes of the Western Athletic Conference women's basketball championship Saturday to lead Fresno State past Nevada 56-49 and clinch its second consecutive trip to the NCAA tournament.
Joh-Teena Filipe added 12 points and 14 rebounds for the
top-seeded Bulldogs (24-8), who shared the WAC's regular season
title with Louisiana Tech and tied the school's previous best
record set in 2005-06.
Shavon Moore had a team-high 10 points and eight rebounds for
the third-seeded Wolf Pack (18-14), who appeared in their first WAC
title game ever and were bidding for their first trip to the NCAA
Fresno State made only 21-of-67 shots from the field (31
percent) but out-rebounded Nevada 51-34 and held Nevada's
three-time all-WAC guard Dellena Criner to only nine points after
she'd averaged 23 points in the two previous WAC tourney games.
Down 31-20 at the half, Nevada fought back to tie the game 47-47
before Ross scored inside and was fouled with 3 minutes to play.
She missed the free throw but then nailed a 3-pointer with 2:06 on
the clock to give the Bulldogs a 52-47.
Moore scored off a rebound to make it 52-49 but LaShay Fears
scored inside to put Fresno State up 54-49 at 1:11.
Filipe missed the front end of a one-and-one to keep Nevada's
hopes alive but Marnique Arnold blocked Megan Cherry's shot from
the top of the key and Ross followed with a pair of free throws
with 31 seconds left to seal the win.
Fresno State, which debuted in the NCAA tourney last year,
missed 11 of its first 14 shots before Ross hit consecutive
3-pointers, Filipe added a third and Ross another during a 12-0 run
that put the Bulldogs on top 20-14 8:45 before the half.
Jennifer Gross made an 18-footer to end a 5 1/2 minute scoring
drought for Nevada and Marissa Hammond scored inside to cut the
Bulldogs' lead to 20-18 6:22 before the half. But Marnique Arnold
made a pair of free throws, Ross drove the lane for a basket and
Arnold converted a 3-point play to make it 27-18 at 2:27. Arnold
also scored off an offensive rebound just before the halftime
The Wolf Pack opened the second half with a 13-3 run that
included a pair of 3-pointers by Johnna Ward and five points from
Criner to cut the lead to 34-33. They went ahead 37-36 when Moore
followed a 17-footer with a pair of free throws with 14 minutes
remaining and held their last lead 41-40 midway through the half
when Cherry followed a layup with a pair of free throws.
Filipe scored inside to start a 7-0 run for the Bulldogs and
went ahead 47-41 on Ross's layup with 6:37 left.
Nevada freshman Kayla Williams hit from 12 feet, Criner turned a
steal into a layup then Moore stole the ball and fed Brandi Jones
for another layup for the 47-47 tie before the Bulldogs pulled