Bulldogs cash in against a zone

March 17, 2008 

LAS CRUCES, N.M. -- Fresno State coach Adrian Wiggins said Saturday afternoon that he's not proficient at creating ways to attack zone defenses.

So Wiggins gave most of the credit for the Bulldogs' 72-56 win over New Mexico State in the Western Athletic Conference tournament finals to his assistants. They created the scheme that changed the momentum at the Pan American Center.

It forced Fresno State to excel at one of its weaknesses.

"It just opened up the floor," said Wiggins, whose Bulldogs are heading to the NCAA Tournament for the first time in school history. "It left the middle really wide open. And they did it on purpose because we weren't very good at getting the ball there. But we got it there and got some shots."

Fresno State moved senior guard Tierre Wilson to the wing with Emma Andrews. As both players penetrated, reaching the middle of the floor, they found teammates open on the perimeter.

That allowed Fresno State to convert 5 of 8 3-pointers in the second half. In the first half, the Bulldogs went 1 of 10.

"Coming out in the second half, we knew that our shots would start to fall," said junior Bailey Amundsen, who went 2 of 3 on 3-pointers.

"If you miss in the first half, you're usually going to start making them in the second half."

One day earlier, Fresno State set a WAC tournament mark for most 3-pointers in a game (13) and most attempts (33).

New Mexico State coach Darin Spence said he considered coming out of the zone defense.

"I thought about it earlier but we were battling from what we did yesterday [rallying from 19-point deficit to beat Boise State], the fatigue," Spence said. "And foul trouble hurt us."

To the Big Dance

It took Fresno State 43 years to reach the NCAA women's basketball tournament and the Bulldogs are so thankful they don't care where they open the first round.

"My assistants have followed the [projected] brackets throughout conference and we bounce around all over the place," Wiggins said. "I have no idea. Hopefully we'll have a shot at a West Coast regional, like Stanford. We'll go anywhere. We're just really excited."

Fresno State will find out its seeding and bracket at 4-5 p.m. Monday during ESPN's women's basketball selection show. The team will watch the process on campus.

First-round play will begin on Saturday in Albuquerque, N.M.; Baton Rouge, La.; Des Moines, Iowa and Stanford. Next Sunday, action starts at Bridgeport, Conn.; College Park, Md.; Norfolk, Va., and West Lafayette, Ind.

ESPN projects Fresno State as a No. 13 seed playing fourth-seed Louisville at the Bridgeport regional.

But there's also a chance the Bulldogs could wind up at Stanford. In 2005, Fresno hosted an NCAA first- and second-round regional that included three California schools -- Stanford, Santa Clara and UC-Santa Barbara -- plus Utah and Arizona State from the West.

There will be 64 teams in the NCAA Tournament and 63 of the games will be shown by either ESPN or ESPN2, according to the sports network's Web site.

Aggies starter out

New Mexico State played without starting point guard Madison Spence, who is also the coach's daughter.

Senior Monique Bribiescas earned her first start of the season. She scored nine points in 26 minutes.

"You take any starting point guard off a team and that'll affect you," Darin Spence said.

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