Fresno State surrendered the second-most points it has all season in an 80-57 loss Saturday afternoon to the Colorado State Rams, the 24th ranked team in the USA Today Coaches Poll.
Senior forward J.J. Avila dropped a game-best 17 points and included nine rebounds to help power the Rams (19-3, 6-3 Mountain West) to their 19th victory.
The Bulldogs (10-12, 5-4 MW) got down early, trailing 9-2 four minutes into the game and would continue to trail for the entire game, as they struggled to find consistency on both ends.
The Rams’ 35-22 halftime lead provided momentum going into the second period, as they scored eight of the first 10 coming out of the break.
In the second half, Colorado State led by as much as 30, and the ‘Dogs never got within single digits of the Rams in the period.
Head coach Rodney Terry noted that rebounding played a critical role, as it took away possessions from his team and provided second-chance opportunities for the Rams as they outrebounded the Bulldogs 49-29.
“It gets down to rebounding, and we knew if we could win the rebounding battle at least by one, we could win this game,” Terry said. “That’s Colorado State’s identity (rebounding). Until we fix our problem rebounding and embrace that and buy into that, it takes away our No. 1 strength as a team. When we don’t rebound and get defensive stops, we can’t get out and get transition baskets and run.
“Rebounding is the first thing we’ve addressed at practice and its just something we just have to continue to work and continue to get better at it,” he said. “We also have to continue to have our guys push each other to get better. Not only our post players, but everybody has to rebound collectively as a team.”
Fresno State’s Marvelle Harris and Cezar Guerrero each totaled a team-high 16 points in the conference loss. Harris’ double-digit effort moved him up to No. 22 on the all time scoring list.
The ‘Dogs played without senior forward Alex Davis, who was suspended indefinitely for actions detrimental to the team.
After a two-game road trip, the Bulldogs return to the Save Mart Center Wednesday to host San Jose State (2-19, 0-9 MW).