March 1, 2012
FRESNO, Calif. - For the seventh straight time, it wasn't decided until the waning moments.
Trailing by three points with 14 seconds to play, LA Tech head coach Teresa Weatherspoon drew up a play in the huddle during a timeout.
Hayes' potential game-tying three-pointer with six seconds to play bounced off the front of the rim and Fresno State ran out the final seconds as the Bulldogs defeated the Lady Techsters 65-62 at the Save Mart Center Thursday night.
It was the seventh straight meeting between the two WAC rivals that has been decided by either overtime or three-points or less in regulation. Fresno State won the first meeting of the year 61-59 in Ruston.
With the victory, Fresno State clinched the outright Western Athletic Conference title as it improved to 24-5 overall, 12-1 in league action. Tech fell to 15-13 overall, 8-5 in league play as it heads into its season finale Saturday at Nevada at 6 p.m. CT.
Behind the shooting of Bendolph and Whitney Jones, Tech fought back from a 13-point second half deficit to give itself an opportunity to tie the game. Bendolph scored a season-high 20 points and recorded a career-high 11 rebounds while Jones added 19 points and four boards before fouling out with 3:37 to play.
A Ki-Ki Moore three-pointer with 6:33 to play in the game gave Fresno State a 59-46 advantage before the Lady Techsters began their comeback. An Angie Felton three-pointer ignited the spurt as Bendolph scored five points in the 16-6 run that ended the game.
Defensively, the Lady Techsters were superb against the WAC's top offensive team, holding Fresno State to only 33 percent (22-67) shooting and only 7-of-34 from beyond the arc. Tech countered with 46 percent (25-55) shooting for the game.
The Lady Techsters led for the majority of the first half. After Fresno State jumped out to an early 5-2 advantage, Tech held the Bulldogs without a field goal for seven minutes as the Lady Techsters built a 16-10 advantage on a Jones jumper at the 7:22 mark.
That's when Tech went cold, hitting only 3-of-8 field goals, missing both free throws and committing six turnovers over the rest of the first half as Fresno State took a 26-22 lead into the locker room.
The second half was a shootout between Rosie Moult and Moore of Fresno State and Bendolph and Jones of Tech. After holding Moult scoreless in the opening half, she erupted for 17 points in the second half while Moore added 10 of her team-high 18 points.
Bendolph and Jones combined to score 23 points, hitting nine of 14 field goals, 2-of-3 three-pointers and 3-of-4 free throws.
Tech concludes the regular season Saturday at 6 p.m. when it faces Nevada in Reno.