The Fresno State men’s basketball team’s valiant comeback effort fell just short as it experienced its first loss of the year 78-73 Monday night at No. 15 Oregon.
“There are no moral victories,” Fresno State head coach Rodney Terry said. “We had to make some explosive plays at the rim because of Oregon’s shot-blocking ability.”
Slow starts are becoming the riddle for the 2015-16 ‘Dogs, but their closing abilities have been better, leading to the 5-0 record to start the year.
Monday was no different as the ‘Dogs staggered after the first tip. Down 11-0 early, they finally got their first point from the free-throw line at the 15:38 mark. Their first field goal, however, did not come until the 14:22 mark when senior guard Julien Lewis knocked down a jumper.
Turnovers quickly became the story for the first half of the game as the ‘Dogs committed 10 first-half turnovers, but they were able to force 11 Oregon turnovers on defense to keep them in the game. Fresno State was not able to make much of those turnovers as it only shot 29 percent from the field in the half, including a dismal 22 percent from behind the 3-point line.
Junior guard Lionel Ellison came off the bench to lead the way for the ‘Dogs with seven points. The bench scored 13-of-25 first-half points for the Bulldogs, and they found themselves down 12 at the half.
Senior guard Marvelle Harris was held scoreless in a half for the first time this season. The Mountain West Preseason Player of the Year was 0-for-4 from the field and failed to get to the free-throw line in the first period.
Harris, however, took over late in the second half. With the ‘Dogs down 18, Harris went on the offensive, scoring 13 of the ‘Dogs next 16 points to spark a 16-2 run to trim the lead to four with just under two minutes remaining.
“I am proud of the way we fought back,” Terry said, “which put us in a position where we had a chance to win the game.”
But because of some late costly turnovers, that would be the closest the ‘Dogs would get as they’d fall on the road. The ‘Dogs finished the night with a total of 18 turnovers, the highest number this season. They, however, outrebounded the Ducks 41-32 behind junior forward Torren Jones’ 11, who finished with a double-double as he also posted 10 points.
“I thought our guys attacked the basket much better in the second half,” Terry said. “We didn’t take care of the basketball – a lot of those were on us without taking anything away from what Oregon did [defensively].”
Harris led the way for the ‘Dogs, scoring all of his team-high 18 points in the second half, just two points off his season average. Harris was one of four Bulldogs to post double-figure point totals for the night.
The loss marks the 17th straight loss for Fresno State against Top 25 teams.