Louisiana Tech 68, Fresno St. 66
Louisiana Tech knew it had to win the Western Athletic
Conference tournament title to make the school’s first trip back to
the NCAA tourney since 2006.
Star forward Shanavia Dowdell still isn’t sure exactly how they
The 6-foot-2 senior had 20 points and 19 rebounds and Jasmine
Bendolph hit an 18-footer with 33 seconds left to help snap
top-seeded Fresno State’s 19-game winning streak with a 68-66 upset
Saturday in the WAC title game.
“I don’t know what got into me,” said Dowdell, the tourney
MVP. “I was just out there saying, ‘Let’s go.’ I just wanted to
help my team any way I could.”
Whitney Jones added 13 points and Tarkeisha Wysinger and
Adrienne Johnson 10 each for the Lady Techsters (23-8), who had
been to 25 consecutive NCAA tournaments until the streak ended in
the 2006-07 season. They won the national championship in 1988 and
were the runner-up in 1983, 1987, 1994 and 1998.
“It was beautiful to see how hard our kids wanted it,” Tech
coach Teresa Weatherspoon said.
“The key today was simple. It was who wanted it the most,” she
said. “Our kids played their hearts out.”
Hayley Munro had 15 points and Jaleesa Ross 14 for Fresno State
(27-6), which shot only 34 percent from the field and was
out-rebounded 49-35 but should still receive an at-large bid to the
“It took a good effort to beat us,” Fresno State coach Adrian
“Thankfully this isn’t the last basketball game this team will
play this year. We’re looking forward to the next step. … We
still have our goals ahead of us,” he said.
“La Tech is very physical. This game will be good for us. NCAA
teams are very physical. We have to be ready for that,” Wiggins
Saturday’s game was in doubt until the final buzzer, and
Weatherspoon knew it would be.
“To beat them you have to keep playing hard the whole 40
minutes. Fresno won’t quit coming,” she said. “That’s a good
basketball team we beat today.”
After Bendolph’s shot put Tech up 67-66, Fresno’s Joh-Teena
Filipe missed a 3-point attempt with 14 seconds left. Dowdell made
one free throw but missed another with 6 seconds left. Filipe
rebounded and passed to LaShay Fears but her shot in traffic in the
lane missed as time expired.
“It hurts to lose,” said Ross, a junior who was named to the
all-tournament team and last year became the first player to be
named the WAC tourney MVP two years in a row. “We have to rebound
harder the next time if we want to keep advancing.”
Fresno State’s last loss was Dec. 30 to No. 2 Stanford, 68-46.
The Bulldogs averaged outscoring WAC opponents this year by nearly
19 points a game. But Tech was in the game from the start and
scored the first 10 points of the second half, including
consecutive 3-pointers by Jones to take a 46-37 lead.
Fresno freshman Rosie Moult had a pair of 3-pointers and Emma
Andrews one to cut it to 54-52 midway through the half.
Dowdell’s jumper made it 58-54 with 9:29 left. But Fresno State
ran off 7 unanswered points when Ross sandwiched a pair of buckets
around Munro’s 3-point play on a drive and a foul shot to put the
Bulldogs on top 61-58 before Brietta Thomas’ 3-pointer tied it
61-61 at 7:39.
After Ross made a pair of free throws, Wysinger hit a jumper to
make it 63-63. Fears made a layup to put Fresno in front 65-63 with
4 minutes left. Bendolph’s jumper tied it again at 3:23 and Fears
gave the Bulldogs their last lead 66-65 at 2:19 before Bendolph
made what proved to be the game-winner.
Jones made back-to-back 3-pointers and Dowdell hit four of her
first five shots to put the Lady Techsters ahead 22-14 midway
through the first half. They pushed the lead to 33-23 when Dowdell
followed a 15-foot jumper with a 3-pointer at the 4-minute
The Bulldogs had four turnovers the first 8 minutes of the game
but none the rest of the half. They closed the first half with a
15-3 run keyed by consecutive 3-pointers from Filipe and Munro to
take a 37-36 halftime lead.