Just the Facts, Ma'am: 28 points from Jaleesa Ross and 21 from Rosie Moult led Fresno State over Southern Miss, 88-51. Rachel Vigers led Southern Miss with 18 points and 9 rebounds.
For line changes, accolades, three-point shooting, and random acts of St. John's fans, join your intrepid and ardent blogger after the jump.
Noon is too early for a basketball game to tip off. Of course, I'm biased, because I like to be there when the gates open, which means that I'm in my seat a little after eleven if it's a noon tip. And we left the house a little early, so we were at St. John's by 10:30, which gave us a chance to wish Fresno State good luck against Southern Miss. (Their coaching staff agreed that that game was rough. They also said we were the fans of the game, which I thought was a magnanimous gesture. So we decided to root for them.)
The place was deserted even at the first tip. Have I mentioned that noon is too early for basketball? Because St. John's wasn't in the first game, the cheerleaders and band and whatnot weren't in, so we got a recorded anthem and canned music. For noise, it was the two benches, the two of us, and a couple of band guys who came in early and joined us in cheering for Fresno State and against Southern Miss.
Adrian Wiggins was prepared for the Golden Eagles' physicality. Of course, he had more options than we did, but he was still willing to sub liberally, especially in the second half. Veronica Wilson set the tone by going toe to toe with Tanisha Washington and making it clear that if Washington wanted to play, she was going to find herself tangling with someone who used to practice against Carolyn Swords and Stefanie Murphy on a regular basis. She couldn't hit a bunny for love nor money, but she didn't need to. Emma Andrews showed a lot of nerve trying to guard Rachel Vigers, who has four inches and a lot of weight on her. Marnique Arnold showed no fear of anybody on her back-to-back and-ones. They got some decent minutes out of Bree Farley at guard. We got to see a few younger players, like Jeanna Furst, who put up a big block; Alex Furr, who showed impressive range from beyond the arc; and Blakely Goldberg, who played well inside. Wiggins kept his players fresh with wholesale subs in the second half- we're talking hockey style line changes.
Rosie Moult did a couple of things well. Her hands were active and her defense had bright spots. But the thing she did best was camp out on the wing and put up threes. She didn't make any of her own shots, but she didn't need to. Hayley Munro did a nice job of cleaning up on the offensive boards. Taylor Thompson's release continues to be funky, but her range is impressive, and her defensive intensity is unmatched. When a little bitty guard is defending big physical centers, and doing it well, that says a lot. Taja Edwards was in and out for Wilson a lot, and she wasn't much of a factor. Jaleesa Ross had the game that I thought she was going to have yesterday. Her shots were falling, her teammates were catching her passes, her hands were more active- all of that. I'm not sure I was thrilled with her taking threes late in the game with Washington on her- I thought for sure she was going to be targeted, and if I were Adrian Wiggins, that's a risk I wouldn't have wanted to take.
Fresno runs a couple of drills that I really like. One is a rapid change of direction drill, where the leader shouts out which way they're going and changes it on a dime, including diving forwards and backwards for loose balls. Another is a defensive drill, where the pass comes in low, and as the "offensive" player scoops it up, the "defensive" player is suddenly all up in her face, hands up and going "Ball, ball, ball, ball!" That one looks like a good way to show players how to put on pressure, and how to take it.
Southern Miss behaved themselves for the first half of the game, and then as the lead ballooned for Fresno, some of the misbehavior that reared its ugly head yesterday showed up today. Elbows came out a little more. Hips protruded. Players went flying for no good reason. Other such charming things. And over it all, the hoarse, high-pitched, heavily accented screech of the Southern Miss coach. Oh, it was glorious finally yelling "SHUT UP ALREADY!" at her near the end of the game.
She went a little deeper into her bench this time, but not as much as she could have. I really do think it would have made more sense to go deep into the bench on the second consecutive day of getting beat down like a redheaded stepchild, but no one pays me for this. Nia Bradford continued to overdo it, looking very much like a player who was looking for playing time by any means possible, and if that meant falling into line with what the coach wanted, then that was what she would do. Fresno did a good job of keeping Ewa Urbanowska from being much of a factor on the inside. Danielle Johnson continued to shoot and miss.
The diving by Washington and Geneshia Dunbar was hilarious. I'm sorry, but you're not getting any sympathy. Dunbar set a legal Screen of Death that people were screaming to be called a foul, but it was clean, it was legal, and if you're stupid enough to run into a screen after your teammate calls it out, you deserve to see stars. Brittany Johnson was mostly confusing, because she and Danielle Johnson subbed for each other. Washington continued to be overphysical, with the bonus of being able to mock her shooting. Rachel Vigers was a bit more aggressive on defense than she had been yesterday, and still very effective for her height in the paint. Jamierra Faulkner continues to impress me- she needed more shots this time, but I still like her style.
The referees had a better grip on this game than they did yesterday. I think they were aware of what happened yesterday, and what could have happened, and didn't want it to happen again. I only saw one or two Fresno players go off injured, and they were only small injuries.
Some of the St. John's players drifted in and out during the game, in various states of uniform and health. I think we scared the daylights out of Briana Brown when we were going full throttle for Fresno. We waved at a few of them, and at least on Twitter Jennifer waved back.
It was very cathartic to see Southern Miss get their comeuppance. I never said I was fair, or neutral, or anything like that.