Cougars Nearly Upend Bulldogs

Dec. 9, 2004

FRESNO, Calif. - In a tale of two halves, the Fresno State Bulldog's first half was enough to withstand a second half rally from Washington State in the Bulldogs' 65-61 win over the Cougars in women's basketball action, Thursday at the Save Mart Center.

In what was a wild game that featured three lead changes and three ties in the final 6:44, the Cougars (3-3) nearly handed the Bulldogs (6-0) their first loss of the year as the team rallied from a 13-point second half deficit to take the lead with less than seven minutes remaining.

'What a tough one to lose,' WSU Head Coach Sherri Murrell said. 'These kids fought hard. We have to take some serious positives out of this game.'

Charmaine Jones led a trio of Cougars in double digits with 16 points. Stephanie Singer (12 points) and Kate Benz (11 points) completed the trio. Aritta Lane led the Bulldogs with 23 points.

The Cougars nearly pulled off the fourth greatest comeback in school history as the game's outcome was in doubt until the very end.

The first half saw the Cougars endure a pair of 8-0 Fresno State runs to bookend the half, a 7-of-32 (21.9 percent) shooting performance and a 32-16 rebound disparity. It could have been worse for WSU if not for the Bulldogs' 1-of-16 shooting performance from 3-point territory.

The end result was a 30-19 halftime deficit that was stretched to 32-19 when FSU converted the first bucket of the second half.

'What hurt is that they are really good on the boards and they knew that we were pretty good too,' Murrell said. 'We were trying to go for the rebound and trying to run up their backs. Fresno State has athletic kids. We needed to spin around them. We made an adjustment in the second half and did a little bit better.'

The second half was the other extreme for the Cougars as WSU shot a blistering 16-of-27 (59.3 percent) during the final 20 minutes.

'Tonight I drew up new plays that we scored tremendously out of,' Murrell said. 'I just drew up a couple of news plays and said, `We are going to run this because nothing is working' and we scored every single time on it. That is a real attribute to those kids.'

After digging itself into an 8-0 deficit in the game's first three minutes, WSU continually threatened to take the lead but each rally was thwarted by Fresno State. That was until, with the Cougars down 50-47, back-to-back treys from Singer gave the Cougars their first lead of the game at 53-50 with 6:20 remaining.

Prior to Singer's treys, WSU had pulled to within three on seven occasions, two once and one on another two instances.

The Cougars extended the lead to 56-52 but Fresno State used a 7-0 run to retake the lead at 59-56.

Four straight points from Singer, which included her third trey of the second half, returned the Cougars back to the lead at 60-59. But the Bulldogs responded to the Cougars' challenge with a 3-pointer by Amy Parrish with 42 seconds remaining, which brought FSU back to a 62-60 advantage.

Jones made one of two free throws to slice the deficit to 62-61 with 22 seconds left. Parrish, who finished with 10 points, made the first of two free throws to return FSU to a two-point advantage but she missed the second and WSU secured the rebound with 19 seconds left.

Emma Joneby's shot to tie with nine seconds left bounced of the iron and Fresno State's Mirenda Swearengin was able to secure the rebound.

After Jones fouled Swearengin to put her to the line, the Cougars had one final chance when Swearengin missed the front end of a one-and-one. But WSU was unable to secure the rebound as Parrish got the board and in the process secured Fresno State's undefeated record.

A pair of free throws from Chantella Perera provided the final margin of victory for FSU.

WSU concludes its California road trek Saturday at 2 p.m. against San Diego State.
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