Fresno State head coach Rodney Terry argues with an official during Wednesday’s conference game against Colorado State at Save Mart Center. (Paul Schlesinger/The Collegian)
The Fresno State men’s basketball team was down from the beginning, giving up shot after shot and was not able to keep up with the Rams. It came within reach at times but the Rams kept delivering blow after blow to crush the Bulldogs’ hopes of climbing up in the conference standings.
As a result, the Bulldogs (12-14, 7-6 MW) suffered their first sweep of the season with an 81-73 loss Wednesday night at the hands of the fourth-place Colorado State Rams.
“We expected to face a team that was going to be physical on the glass,” Bulldogs head coach Rodney Terry said. “They were going to come in here and rebound the basketball and really challenge us to block them out at all five spots. They got off to a great start shooting the basketball, and we picked up the intensity midway through the first half and really started playing. But this was a game that in order to win we would have had to play well on the defensive end.”
The Rams (22-5, 9-5 MW) got off to a hot start on both ends but particularly on offense where they converted 14 of 29 field goal attempts for a 48.3 percentage in the first half.
Five minutes into the game, Colorado State built a double-digit lead and pushed it up to as much as 14 before Fresno State answered back.
Terry’s squad eventually settled down and gained its composure after a crucial 3-point basket from Paul Watson cut Colorado State’s lead to single digits. That helped shift some momentum in the ‘Dogs’ favor.
The ‘Dogs would go on a 10-6 run, capped by a Cezar Guerrero 3-pointer, to close out the half and trail 37-32.
“We regrouped and put ourselves in great position with it being a two-possession game at halftime with the chance for it to be a one-possession game,” Terry said. “But we didn’t come out the second half the way we wanted to, especially on the defensive end.”
The second period proved to be not much different. The Rams again built several healthy leads behind proficient shooting and didn’t run into serious trouble until the final minutes when Guerrero received the and-one call on a drive to the basket, and executed the free throw to pull the ‘Dogs within five.
The five-point difference, however, was as deep as the Bulldogs managed to cut into the lead. The Rams converted the crucial free throws to close out the game.
Colorado State ended the night with a 25-of-53 shooting performance (47.2%) from the field. Fueling the Rams were seniors Daniel Bejarano and J.J. Avila with 20 and 16 points, respectively. Bejarano also shot 4-of-7 from behind the arc.
Guerrero scored a season-high 20 points for the Bulldogs off 8-of-13 shooting.
Juniors Julien Lewis and Marvelle Harris each put up 14.
“You have to give [Colorado State] a lot of credit,” Terry said. “They’re a well-coached team that plays hard. They’re not only one of the better teams in our league, but one of the better teams in the country.”