The Fresno State men’s basketball team had its three-game winning streak snapped at the hands of the Utah State Aggies on Saturday 65-62 at the Save Mart Center.
Fresno State’s play in the first half cost the ‘Dogs on the scoreboard. Through the first 20 minutes of action, the team turned the ball over nine times which translated into nine points for the Aggies.
Some of those points came from a source that has been an Achilles heel for Fresno State.
The ‘Dogs have had trouble defending against the 3-point shot for most of the season, allowing opponents to shoot 37 percent from beyond the arc. The Aggies capitalized on that trend in the first half, shooting 9-of-13 – a 69 percent clip.
Bulldogs’ head coach Rodney Terry said that his coaching staff made some adjustments to their defense at halftime to defend the three, and it showed in the second half.
The Aggies sank only 28 percent of their 3-point shots in the second half, drastically reducing their percentage for the game.
“Obviously, we needed to play with more urgency with guys getting open looks, not give them comfortable shots,” Terry said. “We did a much better job contesting shots and just being in the right position defensively, I thought, in the second half.”
The Bulldogs struggled mightily in the first half with their bench play. A reserve squad that had normally been a great strength for the team was outscored in the first half, 17-3.
All told, the ‘Dogs weren’t out of the game despite their poor play as they trailed just 39-31 at the half.
The Bulldogs began the second half with a strong rebound and a flurry of points, culminating in a 12-4 run to tie the game at 43 with 13 minutes left.
The Bulldogs still trailed late into the second half. Down three with under a minute left, senior guard Ray Bowles Jr. nailed a high-pressure jumper from long range to tie the game at 62.
With 14 seconds left and the game tied, the ‘Dogs needed to get a defensive stop to give them a chance to win on the other end.
Aggies forward Daron Henson broke Bulldogs fans’ hearts by nailing a long 3-pointer with 0.7 seconds left to seal the victory for Utah State.
In the end, Fresno State will likely look back on this game and be disappointed with the way it shot free throws as it left too many points on the floor, Terry said.
“We left some on the table in our free-throw shooting,” Terry said. “We know we are going to be in possession games. Eleven for 19 – we know we have to shoot it better from the line.”
The loss drops the ‘Dogs’ record to 15-7 overall and 5-4 in the Mountain West Conference.
Fresno State will take its show to Reno on Wednesday. Nevada is No. 1 in the Conference.