Although the Bulldogs were not able to continue their two-game winning streak, freshman guard Niven Hart shined bright against Colorado State University.
Hart came off the bench, scoring a career-high 29 points on 21 attempts and grabbing four rebounds, three assists, a block and a steal. 26 of his points came within 17 minutes in the second half.
Hart was out for four games earlier this year with a concussion and started fighting for playing time when he returned against Wyoming.
“Niven has shown us in practice that there are times he can get going. We knew that about him…” said Bulldogs head coach Justin Hutson on Hart’s performance. “We told him when he came back from his concussion that we were going to give him some opportunity. And we said it doesn’t matter what position you are at, we’re going to give you some opportunity because we know you can score the ball and you have been trying really hard. He has continued to earn his opportunity.”
The first half of the men’s basketball game against the Rams started off on the right note with Noah Blackwell hitting a three-point shot. Signs of a great passing game as well started the game off when the Bulldogs scored its second basket.
By the first timeout of the game, the Rams had a 12-7 lead over the Dogs. A turnover by senior forward Nate Grimes snowballed into a 10 point lead with 12 mins left in the half.
The Bulldogs would continue their turnover plague by turning the ball over a total of nine times in the half. Five of the nine turnovers were committed by freshman guard Jarred Hyder. Yet, the Rams only scored 12 points off the many turnovers.
By the start of the second half, Fresno State continued its sloppy play. Scoring only two points within four minutes at the start of the second half, Hutson subbed out every starter and put in every reserve in the game. As the reserves subbed in, they were faced with the challenge of coming back from an 18-point deficit.
“I wasn’t hoping for much and hope is not a strategy,” Hutson said. “Those guys didn’t deserve to be out on the floor, so I was going to try some other guys.”
This is where Hart showed his true capability. There was a point in the second half where he scored nine consecutive times for the Bulldogs. The second-highest scorer for the Bulldogs was Grimes with five points.
Hart was tied for the most minutes on the court with most of his minutes coming in the second half. On average, Hart plays for about 15 minutes per game.
“I was pretty tired, but [Hutson] wanted me to stay in because everything was flowing,” said Hart on his career-night. “[Hutson] wanted me to push through it, so I was going to push through it. That’s what I did. I tried to do whatever I could to make us come back. I wasn’t so much in the game thinking about how many points I had or how much I was scoring. I was just trying to score right — trying to win the game.”
Alongside Hart’s performance, the Bulldogs suffered another hit to their lineup during the second half. Redshirt freshman guard Jordan Campbell took a hard fall when he tried to score on a fast-break opportunity around the 13-minute mark.
Although it wasn’t clear what Campbell’s injury was, Hutson speculated that Campbell’s injury could be concussion-related based on how he left the court to the locker room.
Colorado State expanded its winning streak to five games beating the Dogs 80-70. Fresno State now travels to Las Vegas to take on the UNLV Runnin’ Rebels on Saturday, Feb. 8.