Fresno State snapped a three-game losing streak in its 70-65 victory over Hawaii on Wednesday.
For the third time this season, Fresno State fought for a win in the final minutes of the game against a conference title contender.
Unlike the two other games this season, this one ended in favor of Fresno State, partly due to heroics from senior guard Kevin Bell.
Bell finished with a career-high 27 points.
When Bell wasnâ€™t hitting big three-point shots to keep his team competitive, he attacked the rim at will. If he didnâ€™t hit the lay-up, he was most likely fouled and sent to the foul line where he hit 9 of 12 free throws.
When Bell wasnâ€™t hitting the big shots, he set up fellow players to make their own big shots.
One of Bellâ€™s nine assists went to Hector Hernandez, who hit a three-pointer to break Hawaiiâ€™s largest lead of the second half with about three minutes to go.
Bell also defended Hawaiiâ€™s leading scorer Matt Gibson, who struggled to score throughout the game. Coach Steve Cleveland was impressed by Bellâ€™s defense on Gibson.
â€œHe did a great job on Gibson,â€ Cleveland said. â€œKevin stayed in front of Gibson all night long.â€
Bell was not the only thing Gibson had to worry about. During an inbound, Bell and Gibson were involved in some shoving and trash talking that the crowd did not take a liking to.
After the altercation, the crowd booed Gibson every time he touched the ball. As the crowd booed, Gibson gave up the ball and his touches were limited after the incident.
Hawaii has four players that score in double digits nightly and Wednesday was no exception. Riley Luettgerodt, Bill Amis, Bobby Nash and Gibson scored 10 points or more in the game. Luettgerodt finished with 14 points, and a season-high 11 rebounds and seven assists.
Cleveland said the offensive skill set of the Rainbow Warriors made them a tough team to guard.
â€œEverybody can pass-catch and they run the clock down until they get the shot they want,â€ Cleveland said.
The Fresno State defense made it hard for Hawaiiâ€™s patient offense. The â€˜Dogs pressured the ball and Hawaii was forced into several shot clock violations.
Fresno State also had its fair share of contributors, but their performances were not shown statistically.
Eddie Miller did not have his best game of the season, as he finished with 10 points, going 2 of 7 from the three-point line.
One of his three-point shots came when Fresno State was down two with just 44 seconds to go. Cleveland said Miller hit the biggest shot of the game.
Ned Golubovic and Hernandez combined for 17 points and 17 rebounds. Hernandez was perfect from beyond the arc, and Golubovic grabbed a career-high eight rebounds.
Dwight Oâ€™Neil finished the game with seven points, six rebounds and three steals.
Oâ€™Neil put up a solid all-around performance, but Bell said that he provides an intangible element to the teamâ€™s play.
â€œDwight immediately brings our toughness to another level,â€ Bell said.
Oâ€™Neil and the Bulldogs return to the Save Mart Center on Saturday to play the Cal Poly Mustangs in a Bracket Buster game.
The Mustangs are coming off a win against the UC Davis Aggies, making them 9-14 on the season.