In front of a season-high 9,645 fans, the Fresno State men’s basketball team had its five-game winning streak snapped by the Wyoming Cowboys 78-68 at the Save Mart Center on Senior Night.
“They made their shots, and we didn’t make our shots tonight,” Bulldogs’ head coach Rodney Terry said. “We give them a lot of credit. We don’t like to be the ones to make excuses. We lost this game because we didn’t shoot the ball well. We lost this game in other areas as well. They put their will on us tonight and we didn’t respond very well, especially to start the game. This time of year, you cannot give 20 minutes away.”
A little under two weeks away from the 2018 Mountain West Tournament, the third place ‘Dogs are just a half game ahead of New Mexico and two games back of Boise State.
“We are going to play an Air Force team that won today [75-65 over Utah State] and we are going to be on their home court, so we are going to need to bounce back. It is going to be a quick turnaround for us,” Terry said.
Fresno State will face Air Force at Clune Arena on Monday night. The Bulldogs can secure a first-round bye for the MW Tournament in Las Vegas if they beat Air Force.
On the other hand, the Cowboys are now tied with San Diego State for fifth place because of the 10-point win over the ‘Dogs.
Just before tipoff, Fresno State honored its four seniors: Terrell Carter II, Jahmel Taylor, Jaron Hopkins and Ray Bowles Jr.
“It is a great group of guys,” Terry said. “These guys have carried themselves the right way on and off the court all season. We have three of the four guys graduated already and one being close to graduation. That is the thing I am most proud of. Guys come through here, and they learn to develop a work ethic. These guys have done that, and it is going to help them for the rest of their lives. They have a degree and that is something that is going to help provide for them as they become husbands and fathers. Hopefully along the way, they have learned to help each other and build friendships that they will have for the rest of their lives.”
Two of those seniors scored in the double-figures. Taylor and Bowles combined for 27 points, marking Bowles’ 18th time this season to score in double-figures and the 40th time in Taylor’s career.
But even Bowles knew it wasn’t enough to secure the win for the ‘Dogs.
“The first half killed us,” Bowles said. “We didn’t come out how we were supposed to, and then the second half came and I tried to do whatever I could to bring the team some energy. It helped at the time, but we didn’t continue to execute on the offensive or defensive ends of the floor.”
In the first half, the ‘Dogs shot 40 percent from the field and went 3-for-10 from beyond the arc, while Wyoming shot 50 percent from both categories to take the half, 46-29.
Fresno State was able to cut its 17-point deficit to five many times throughout the second half. And although the ‘Dogs outscored Wyoming in the second half, 39-32, the first-half deficit proved too much for the ‘Dogs.
A contributor to the loss was also Wyoming’s 22 opportunities to shoot from the free-throw line in the second half. With that, the Cowboys added 19 points to their overall score.
Wyoming’s Justin James led his team with 26 points, three turnovers and a steal. Bulldogs’ sophomore Bryson Williams led his team as he tied with Taylor for 16 points in the contest and three turnovers.
“I think this team is capable of a lot. We took a loss today, but this team is tough and this team has been through a lot this year. We just have to make a huge bounce back from this, learn from it and keep proceeding on,” Williams said.