Colorado State’s Daniel Bejarno hit a dagger three-point shot with 1:17 remaining as the shot-clock buzzer sound to give the Rams a 68-58 lead ending any hopes of Fresno State rally in the final minute.
All five of CSU’s starters scored in double-figures, including a team-high 17 from veteran guard Dorian Green.
“They’re guard play is really good,” said Bulldogs head coach Rodney Terry. “[Wes] Eikmeier shot the ball really well early in the game. Dorian Green seems like he’s been at Colorado State forever.
“We knew coming in the rebounding was going to be huge aspect of the game. They had 12 offensive rebounds, they were a physical team. We can’t give away 20 minutes and spot guys 18 points.”
Allen Huddleston hit two threes and scored eight total points to spearhead a 19-6 Fresno State run that cut the Rams’ 18-point halftime lead to 44-39. Marvelle Harris had a chance to cut it to four but missed the foul shot following his put back basket.
After CSU was called for just three fouls in the first half, Fresno State was in the bonus at the 11:09 mark of the second half. Tyler Johnson hit both foul shots at that point then followed with a bucket a minute later to cut the deficit back to five after the Rams pushed it to 50-41.
CSU went on an 11-4 run to take control of the game with less than six minutes remaining. Harris cut it to 10 with a jumper at the 5:00 mark. And he followed with a pair of free throws and a three-pointer to make it 63-56 at the 2:42 mark.
“We played a really good second half,” added Terry. “They’re an older team, and experienced team…you can’t give 20 minutes away. They’re probably the best defensive team we’ve played all year.”
Johnson scored a game-high 23 points to lead the Bulldogs. Harris added 15 points, all in the second half, as the ‘Dogs drop to 1-5 in MWC play and 7-12 overall.
Fresno State next travels Air Force on Wednesday for a 6 p.m. tip off in Colorado Springs. It will be the last game before freshman Braeden Anderson will be eligible to play February 6 versus UNLV. Terry hopes the 6’8 post player will give the Bulldogs more options inside.
“He’s practiced all year to this point and hasn’t played in two years,” said Terry. “He’s been practicing extremely. We hope he’s a guy that gives us physicality in terms of rebounding the basketball and defending. He gives us another interior guy.”
Johnson scored the Bulldogs first 10 points, including converting a three-point play off a scripted alley-oop pass just 15 seconds into the game. Fresno State led 6-2 at the 17:56 mark but scored just 14 more points in the first half to trail 38-20 at the break.
Two separate basket issues delayed play in the first half. A shot-clock malfunction at the 12:19 mark delayed the game just a few minutes. However, it couldn’t be fixed and crews installed a new shot-clock, basket and backboard at the 6:28 mark. A few minutes later, CSU’s Colton Iverson’s dunk broke the rim at the 3:28 mark. That delay took nearly 20 minutes to fix as crews replaced the rim.
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