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With the game and a championship on the line, Maddi Utti and Bree Delaney came through for Fresno State and an excited crowd Wednesday night at the Save Mart Center.

Delaney, inserted into the game for the first time, lobbed an inbounds pass to Utti, who scored on a backdoor layup with 2.8 seconds to go, giving the Bulldogs a 78-76 victory over San Jose State.

Portrait of Fresno State women's basketball coach Jaime White

I thought looking out and seeing the crowd, the kids, hoop club members, the students that came out and supported us, and the band who is with us day-in and day-out, they are all apart of this. This is their championship just as much as it’s ours.” — Fresno State coach Jaime White

That bucket enabled the Bulldogs to claim at least a share of the Mountain West regular-season title for the first time since joining the conference in 2012.

And it kept the Bulldogs perfect at 14-0 in Mountain West action.

Season-High Crowd Revs up Bulldogs

Afterward, Fresno State coach Jaime White said the season-high home crowd of 4,062 helped fuel the heart-pounding victory.

“This is the all-time best crowd that I have ever been a part of since I’ve been here and they were really the sixth man,” said White, who is in her sixth season at Fresno State. “They helped us with our energy all the way through to the end.”

White also said that the conference championship belongs to the Fresno community as well as the team.

“I thought looking out and seeing the crowd, the kids, hoop club members, the students that came out and supported us, and the band who is with us day-in and day-out, they are all apart of this,” White said. “This is their championship just as much as it’s ours.”

Two Plays Nail Victory for Bulldogs

Utti finished the game with 16 points and 12 rebounds for her ninth double-double of the year. Haley Cavinder also posted a double-double with 21 points and 10 rebounds to go with seven assists. Hanna Cavinder dropped her second straight 20-point outing with 20 points on 8-of-11 shooting while dishing out five assists.

Portrait of Fresno State basketball player Maddi Utti

“My heart’s still racing, I’m just so happy. It was a great team win and that last play was set up perfectly.” — Bulldogs forward Maddi Utti

“My heart’s still racing, I’m just so happy. It was a great team win and that last play was set up perfectly,” Utti said. “Aly (Gamez) set a great back-screen, Bree Delaney’s pass couldn’t be any better than it was, and it went in. I’m honestly just speechless.”

Before Utti’s game-winner, the Bulldogs trailed by two with 31 seconds remaining and the Spartans inbounding the ball under their basket. Utti snared a lob out of the air and passed it to Hanna Cavinder, who raced ahead and connected with Wytalla Motta for the tying layup with 22 ticks left.

The first time the Bulldogs (21-4 overall) and Spartans (15-9, 9-4) hooked up this season in San Jose, a 13-4 edge in overtime gave Fresno State an 85-76 victory.

This one proved equally challenging for the Bulldogs. San Jose State used its speed and a big night from Tyra Whitehead (28 points, 12 rebounds) to match Fresno State bucket for bucket — until 2.8 seconds to go.

The boxscore is at this link.

Up Next

The Bulldogs play at last-place Utah State (7-18, 2-12) on Saturday in a game that tips off at 1 p.m. PT.

The Mountain West standings are at this link.

 

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