Fresno State head coach Rodney Terry smiles after cutting down the nets following the Bulldogs’ 68-63 win over San Diego State in the the Mountain West Tournament title game on Saturday at the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas. (Steve Nowland/NCAA Photos)
Senior guard Marvelle Harris and the second-seeded Bulldogs took down No. 1 seed San Diego State 68-63 with the league crown on the line at the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas for the team’s first Mountain West Conference Tournament title.
This marks the Fresno State men’s basketball team’s sixth NCAA Tournament appearance and first since 2001.
“I give my guys a lot of credit,” Fresno State head coach Rodney Terry said in a postgame interview with the Mountain West Network. “They kept battling against a really good team and we knew it was going to be a fight but our guys came to play.”
The Bulldogs clung on to a one-point lead with 28 seconds left and sealed the game with four-straight free throws from senior guard Julien Lewis after San Diego State’s Dakarai Allen missed the game-tying free throw.
Throughout the game, the Bulldogs forced 15 turnovers and cashed in on them by converting them into 18 points.
SDSU led the entire first half but the ‘Dogs managed to snatch a last-second lead and go into the locker room with a 39-36 lead after Harris delivered a 3-point buzzer beater.
Just like he has all season, Harris led the way for the Bulldogs (25-9) with a team-best 18 points. He also picked up tournament MVP honors to go along with his Mountain West Player of the Year award.
“My team has confidence in me and that gives me confidence in myself,” Harris said. “When you have that much confidence and your team behind you, it’s not hard.”
Harris and junior forward Karachi Edo earned spots on the All-Tournament Team along with Nevada’s Cameron Oliver and a trio of San Diego State players in Malik Pope, Winston Shepard, Trey Kell.
Pope and Shepard had 19 and 15 points for the Aztecs, respectively.
“This was a tremendously hard-fought game between two teams that did everything to will their squad to victory,” SDSU head coach Steve Fisher said. “They did and we weren’t quite able to do it. We had chances. We didn’t lose, we got beat. We fought. Fresno won the game. They made plays. They made big plays, hard plays and they made plays when it didn’t’ look like they were going to get a shot and that’s what winning teams do.”
Fresno State will face Utah in the Round of 64 of the NCAA Tournament on Thursday in Denver. The ‘Dogs enter the tournament riding a nine-game win streak, the fourth-longest active streak in the country.
“We’re excited about this opportunity and we’re excited for the city of Fresno and for the Valley,” Terry said. “I always tell my guys ‘what’s next?’ and ‘one more’ and we’ll continue to say that.”