The Fresno State men’s basketball team looked to finish 2018 with an undefeated home record, but first they faced the Utah Valley University Wolverines, who were coming in to the Save Mart Center with a 10-4 record. However, the Bulldogs found themselves on the losing end of a tough matchup, 64-60, and ending their 7-game winning streak.
This was the last game for the ‘Dogs before starting conference play at San Jose State University on Jan. 2.
The game began with the Bulldogs scoring first, but quickly Utah Valley took advantage of mistakes by the ‘Dogs and the lead. After a back-and-forth, Utah Valley took a five-point lead, which they held throughout the first half.
Throughout the rest of the half the Bulldogs continued to look for a way to get back on top, but with no gains. The offense was erratic at points and missed layups costed the team points.
However, the defense stayed strong, keeping the Wolverines from adding to their lead and keeping the ‘Dogs in the game. Both Fresno State and Utah Valley would take the lead at several points, but it was the Wolverines who took the lead before halftime.
Just before the half buzzer, the Bulldogs Johnny McWilliams scored a three-pointer to bring the ‘Dogs to within a point of the Wolverines and close out the first half.
For the Bulldogs, Braxton Huggins, New Williams and Noah Blackwell had good performances with Blackwell having four assists, Huggins nine points and Williams six points.
The second half started much like the first, with Fresno State taking the lead. But Utah Valley quickly answered to regain the lead. The game continued with Utah Valley on top, but with the Bulldogs just a few points behind.
Fresno State took back the lead thanks to a three-pointer by Williams, which seemed to give the Bulldogs the momentum. However, Utah Valley appeared to keep its composure and took the momentum from the Bulldogs, scoring eight unanswered.
The Bulldogs didn’t give up and cut the eight-point lead in half thanks to Williams, who scored four straight points.
Utah Valley took advantage of the Bulldogs mistakes and maintained a strong lead. The Bulldogs would cut down the lead and tie the game thanks to McWilliams, who had a three-pointer and Huggins who scored the two-points to tie it.
The home crowd was cheering on their feet for the Bulldogs, but the Wolverines regained the lead with two minutes left on the game.
In the last minute of the game, Fresno State kept up the pressure on Utah Valley, which had a three-point lead. The Wolverines committed a foul, putting Huggins on the free-throw line. Huggins missed his first, but scored his second, leaving the Wolverines with a two point lead.
The Bulldogs failed to foul in the last seconds of the game, giving the Wolverines another opportunity to score and add to their lead. Fresno State tried for one more score, but it was too late, with the clock winding down to zero.
After the game, head coach Justin Hutson talked about the loss and said that defensively they played well, but offensively they never got into a rhythm.
“We played hard, It was a positive that we were still able to play tough defense and that kept us in the game,” Hutson said. “It was a hard fought game…we’re normally better, but we had some silly turnover [You] got to give some credit to Utah Valley, but a lot of it was on us.”