Fresno State senior guard Marvelle Harris (23) holds off a trio of Wyoming defenders during during Tuesday’s Mountain West matchup at Save Mart Center. (Darlene Wendels/The Collegian)
The Fresno State men’s basketball team improved to a 5-3 record in Mountain West Conference play with a 71-60 against the Wyoming Cowboys Tuesday night at Save Mart
The Bulldogs tightened up on defense and senior guard Marvelle Harris took over in the second half to help the Bulldogs come out with the victory.
The game started off slow for the ‘Dogs, who were stagnant on defense in the first half while also missing easy baskets on the offensive end.
The first half was back-and-forth with Cowboys’ guard Josh Adams scoring 17 of the team’s 37 points, in which at times he looked almost unstoppable.
After halftime the Bulldogs tightened up their defense and their shots began to fall consistently as they also got to the line more often.
Head coach Rodney Terry was very pleased with the defensive intensity the team came out with, holding Wyoming to 23 points in the second half.
“Well I think it’s something that we’ve tried to buy into all year in terms of that being a part of our identity,” Terry said. “When we got back from winter break, we talked about [how] defense wins.”
The game was close in the second half and although the Cowboys’ 3-point shot wasn’t falling as often Adams continued to pour it in. But it was not easy with rangy junior forward Paul Watson drawing the task of defending the shifty guard.
“Coach Terry always talks about using your length and squaring guys up and that’s what worked for me tonight,” Watson said. “I can tell he was getting frustrated.”
The defensive intensity eventually led to easy baskets on the offensive end, and that’s when Harris and the rest of the team capitalized with 22 points off turnovers.
The game was still tight with the Bulldogs holding on to a 55-51 lead with 5:03 left to go in the game when Watson made a key 3-pointer to push the lead to 58-51. Junior forward Cullen Russo then drained another 3-pointer to essentially close the game out for the ‘Dogs.
Offensive rebounding was also a major factor in the Bulldogs victory as the ‘Dogs had 12 offensive rebounds to the Cowboys’ two.
“They’re only sending one guy to the glass,” Terry said. “We can really play to our strength in transition so it was critical that we didn’t have empty possessions and that we got a shot every time down the floor – and more than likely we wanted it to be on our terms.”
Harris scored 13 of his 25 points in the second half while also adding two steals, Russo – who got his first start of the season – had 10 points and 10 rebounds and Watson chipped in with 12 points.
Adams led Wyoming with 32 points.