Fresno State guard Marvelle Harris (23) battles a Wyoming defender during the ‘Dogs’ triple-overtime loss to the Cowboys Saturday at the Save Mart Center (Paul Schlesinger/The Collegian)
Fresno State and No. 25 Wyoming engaged in the sixth triple-overtime game in school history, which featured a battle for the top spot in the Mountain West Saturday afternoon at the Save Mart Center.
It came down to the wire, but the Cowboys (16-3, 5-1 MW) prevailed for the 70-65 victory behind Larry Nance Jr.’s game-best 21 points and 11 rebounds.
“This was a game of two really good teams competing at a high level,” Fresno State head coach Rodney Terry said. “There is a lot on the line early in conference play right now. They’re an older team that plays with urgency, and I think we’re also playing with urgency right now. But give [the Cowboys] a lot of credit, they made a couple of really big shots and made plays when they needed to make them.”
After a back-and-forth first half, Wyoming went into the locker room with a 26-23 lead. But Fresno State kept battling and was able to take its first lead of the second period when Paul Watson sunk a three for the 41-40 advantage.
With just under two minutes left in regulation, point guard Cezar Guerrero went to the line and missed both free throws and the Cowboys retained the 1-point lead. Moments later, Nance was fouled by Alex Davis and drained one of two free-throw attempts to increase Wyoming’s lead to two.
Fouls continued in the late moments, and Fresno State would catch a break when Alex Davis got fouled in the post and sunk a pair of free throws for the Bulldogs (9-10, 4-2 MW) after getting fouled by Nance to tie the game up at 44 and send the contest into overtime.
Towards the end of the first overtime, Fresno State guard Marvelle Harris would execute a successful layup to tie things up at 51 and send the match into another extra period.
In the second overtime, Bulldogs forward Karachi Edo stepped up and connected on a pair of free throws to tie things up at 59. Guerrero would get called for a foul on Nance attempting to go after a loose ball, but the noise of the Save Mart Center crowd was enough to have him miss both attempts with half a second left to send the game into a third extra period.
Terry said the crowd of 8,000-plus provided energy and support for his team, particularly in crunch time.
“We had a great crowd behind us today,” Terry said. “They provided tremendous support and our guys fed off of that for a better part of the game. The crowd kept our guys energized and playing at the level that they were playing.
“lWe wouldn’t have been in the position that we were in if it weren’t for the type of support we had today. We had an unbelievable crowd.”
Senior guard Charles Hankerson Jr. provided the game-clinching shot with a three-point shot with seconds left in the third overtime period.
For the second consecutive game, sophomore Paul Watson led the team in scoring with 19. Team leading scorer Harris had 13 and Guerrero added 12 in just his second game this season.