There were some possessions that did not go according to the Fresno State men’s basketball team’s plans Saturday night at the Save Mart Center. And it reinforced one of the dominant narratives surrounding the Bulldogs this season – specifically in conference play.
Fresno State’s defense minimized Boise State’s offense and held a 26-25 lead at halftime.
But the same defense that staved off the Broncos’ scorers was unresponsive in second-half of play, giving way to Boise State’s 72-63 win.
“We knew going in that this team could really score the basketball… they are probably the best shooting team in the league,” Fresno State coach Rodney Terry said.
“We gave them a couple of second chances to start. It only takes shooters just a couple of looks and a couple of times going to the basket. We did that with those guys tonight. They got a couple of open looks to start and they got a hot hand. Give them credit, they made a lot of shots.”
Anthony Drmic, who was held to three points in the first half, exploded offensively in the second. Drmic finished with 28 points, making 12-of-15 free throws and 8-of-13 field-goal shots.
The Broncos went on a 23-6 run early in the second half to lead by as much as 18 points.
The Broncos shot 44.4 percent from the field — including 56.5 percent in the second half.
It was Drmic’s surge in the second half coupled with Fresno State’s inconsistency on defense that paved the way to Boise State’s second-half takeover.
“They made open shots, and you can’t take anything away. Drmic was tough for us to deal with,” Terry said.
“By committee, he went to work on us and got to the paint and scored tough baskets.”
Fresno State took the lead at the half in what at the moment seemed like a momentum-changing play.
Before a season-high announced crowd of 8,267, Tyler Johnson yanked the ball away from Ryan Watkins’ hands, passed it across the court to Kevin Olekaibe, who lobbed it to Braeden Andersen for a fast break, lead-changing dunk.
Allen Huddleston led the Bulldogs in scoring with 21 points making 4-of-7 behind the 3-point arc.
The Bulldogs made 20-of-45 (44.4 percent) from the field.
Johnson scored 15 points, and Olekaibe Marvelle Harris each added 10.
Fresno State (9-17, 3-10 MWC) plays two of its last three games of the season on the road. The Bulldogs face Colorado State on the road on Wednesday and conclude their regular season on March 9 at UNLV.
The Bulldogs’ final home game of the season is on Saturday against Air Force.
“I really want to get a win streak going into the (Mountain West) tournament,” said Huddleston. “I think that’ll help us a lot. Just getting wins and building up our confidence.”