Winning 10 out of the last 11 games, the Fresno State men’s basketball team was looking to keep its streak alive, but first it had to host the number 10 ranked team in the nation in the University of Nevada, Reno Wolf Pack. The Bulldogs would lose a tough matchup 74-64 in front of more than 9,000 people, the biggest crowd of the season at the Save Mart Center.
The game started with the Wolf Pack taking the lead early, but the Bulldogs were not far behind, staying within a few points. Slowly, the Bulldogs would mount a comeback and take the momentum from Nevada.
The Bulldogs would tie and eventually take the lead 19-17 halfway through the first half, thanks in part to Braxton Higgins, who had some three-point shots that helped out the Bulldogs.
With momentum on their side, the Bulldogs seemed to have control of the game both on offense and defense, with less than eight minutes in the half.
However, the Wolf Pack would make a comeback, pressuring the Bulldogs’ defense and creating more opportunities for points than the ‘Dogs. Nevada would tie and eventually retake the lead with about five minutes left in the half.
Controlling the game and with momentum on their side, the Wolf Pack would go on a nine-point run. However, the Bulldogs’ three-point shooting kept them in the game and within reach.
In the last minutes of the first half, the ‘Dogs tied the game. But the Wolf Pack would not let up and took a five-point lead to end the first half. The half ended with a 37-32 score in favor of the Wolf Pack, who seemed to have the momentum on their side just before the break.
For the Bulldogs, Higgins had nine points and three rebounds, Nate Grimes had 10 points and seven rebounds and Deshon Taylor had seven points, four rebounds and two assists at the end of the first half.
In the second half, the Bulldogs quickly closed the five-point gap to one point, but Nevada would not let the ‘Dogs tie it up. Nevada put pressure on the Bulldogs and took advantage of the ‘Dogs’ misses to create a big lead.
The Wolf Pack would take a 10-point lead, the biggest lead in the match, which put pressure on Fresno State to close the gap.
Fresno State would try and make a comeback, but the Wolf Pack would maintain their composure, keeping the lead and the momentum on their side. The Bulldogs missed opportunities for a comeback due to miscues, giving the ball away and not taking advantage of fouls given to them.
Nevada maintained a nine-point lead through much of the second half, with no real answer from the Bulldogs, who seemed to be outmatched both on offense and defense.
With the clock winding down, the Bulldogs would try and put pressure on Nevada, but with no success and only managed to cut the lead by a few points. The ‘Dogs seemed to be more aggressive and also seemed to have more urgency in the game, but were not able to capitalize on their opportunities.
The Bulldogs would finally catch a break with less than two minutes of game time left, cutting down the lead to five. Once the Bulldogs seemed to have momentum on their side, the Wolf Pack responded with points, adding to their lead and keeping the Bulldogs from gaining any traction.
Nevada would add to their lead with just a few seconds left in the game, finishing with a 10-point difference. The game ended with a score of 74-64 in favor of the Wolf Pack, giving the Bulldogs their first loss of the season in conference play.
The top performers of the game for the Bulldogs were Huggins who had 25 points, five rebounds and one assist, Taylor with 16 points, five rebounds and four assists and Grimes who had 15 points and 11 rebounds.
After the game, head coach Justin Hutson commented about the game during an interview on ESPN 940 AM.
“It took us a while to settle down defensively…I think we settled in and we started playing really good defense, minus the rebounds,” Hutson said. “We could have been better, so we work on boxing out and rebounding and we could have been more physical tonight.”