Fresno State beats La Tech 89-61 for WAC titleBy TIM BOOTH, AP Sports Writer Saturday, Mar 10, 2012
LAS VEGAS (AP)—Fresno State’s record looked NCAA worthy before the Western Athletic Conference championship game.
Bulldogs coach Adrian Wiggins didn’t want to leave anything to chance.
Fresno State’s record-setting 3-point barrage on Saturday put all questions to rest. The Bulldogs are back in the NCAA tournament for the fifth straight year.
Rosie Moult hit six of Fresno State’s tournament record 15 3-pointers and finished with 23 points, and the Bulldogs claimed their fifth straight NCAA tournament appearance with an impressive 89-61 win over Louisiana Tech in the WAC final on Saturday.
The regular season conference champion Bulldogs (28-5) rolled to their second straight tournament title and NCAA automatic bid, knocking off the third-seeded Lady Techsters for the second straight year in the championship game.
And it came in the Bulldogs farewell to the WAC as they’re set to join the Mountain West Conference next season.
“The administrators showed up, the (school) president is here today,” Wiggins noted. “All of my bosses were here; no pressure.”
But unlike the regular season when Fresno State pulled out two narrow wins over Louisiana Tech by a combined five points, the Bulldogs turned this into a laid-back march into the NCAAs thanks to their pinpoint 3-point shooting in the first half when Fresno State hit 10 3s and blitzed the Lady Techsters over the final 11 minutes of the half.
“It’s just exciting to know that we’re going to get there and don’t have to wait around on Monday and hope to get there,” Moult said.
And wherever the Bulldogs go, if they shoot the way they did on Saturday they will be a tough out no matter what their seed ends up being.
WAC player of the year and tournament MVP Ki-Ki Moore added 19 points and Madison Parrish scored 13, including three 3s. Fresno State has won four of the last five WAC tournament titles, along with picking up an at-large bid to the NCAA tourney in 2010 when they were knocked off by La Tech in the finals.
“I do think we’re one of the top four teams in the western part of the United States,” Wiggins said. “I don’t know if we would have gotten recognized for that yet.”
Thanks to La Tech’s upset of No. 2 seed Utah State in the semifinals, Saturday’s championship game was a rematch of the previous two WAC title games where each time the lower seed knocked off the regular season champion. In 2010 it was Louisiana Tech beating the Bulldogs, while Fresno State returned the favor in 2011.
The previous seven games between the rivals were all decided by six points or less, with three going to overtime.
And while it appeared to be on a similar course early, the Bulldogs’ outside shooting overwhelmed La Tech. Whitney Frazier led Louisiana Tech (17-15) with 18 points, but no other Lady Techsters scored in double figures.
“It wasn’t that our kids weren’t giving it their all, it was just unfortunate that the energy we needed for this game was not there,” Louisiana Tech coach Teresa Weatherspoon said. “… We were not defending very well at all. You cannot leave them open and we left them open quite a few times.”
Fresno State hit 10 of 20 3-point attempts in the first half, but it was a 9 minute stretch when the Bulldogs outscored the Lady Techsters 32-10 that blew the game open.
And not surprising it all started behind the arc. Down 18-16, Fresno State hit five of its next six 3-point attempts. And Moult was the catalyst with her own personal 11-point run to start the surge. She hit three straight 3-pointers, the last one rushed and off target but still managed to bank off the glass and in. Moore added another 3 to cap the initial 13-2 spurt.
But the Bulldogs weren’t done. After consecutive La Tech baskets, Fresno State ran off the 12 of the next 14 points and took its biggest lead of the half at 48-28 on Parrish’s 3-pointer with 2:15 left.
The Bulldogs broke the tournament record for most 3s in one game—a mark they already owned at 13 set in 2008 and matched again in 2010—on Moult’s 3 with 11:52 left. She checked out with 4:13 left and Fresno State up 87-57.
“I just think the way the game started … everyone was hitting shots. Everyone had the confidence,” Moult said.
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