Marvelle Harris went 1 of 9 in the Fresno State Bulldogs' overtime loss at UNLV and, no, that does not look good on a stat sheet. But as the sophomore guard tries to work his way out of a shooting slump in Mountain West Conference play that has now extended to a 14 for 60 (23.3%) over the past five games, he has found ways to impact games.
At UNLV, that was defending Bryce-Dejean Jones. He was held to a 3 of 12, the worst shooting game for the Rebels' leading scorer since opening the season with a 1 of 5 in a loss to UC Santa Barbara, and in between there were some rather large games. Dejean-Jones had hit 10 of 16 shots in scoring 28 points against Air Force, knocked down 6 of 12 in scoring 23 points at New Mexico. And, of course, there was the conference opener at Fresno State, when he hit 7 of 12 shots in scoring 24 points.
"People on the outside looking in, they'll think I had a bad game, I was one for whatever," Harris said. "But going into the game, they wanted me to stop Bryce Jones or contain him, because like coach said, he is the head of that monster and taking him out of the game was our best chance to win.
"I just focused on playing defense and, yeah, I missed some shots, but I felt like I helped my team win getting defensive stops."
Harris had a big block when Dejean-Jones tried to get into the lane with 28 seconds remaining on overtime, the score tied at 66, giving the Bulldogs possession and a chance to win.
Not that it took any sting out of the loss, the Bulldogs' fifth in a row.
"I did miss some shots that I'm capable of making, that I've shown I can make before. But at the end of the day, I just had to pick it up on defense, make up for it on being defensive and rebounding, do all the little things," Harris said.
That is exactly what coach Rodney Terry wants Harris doing. A scorer in high school, he would lean toward shooting his way out of this funk. But there are other ways.
"For a young player, the biggest thing is learning to be consistent night in and night out and any time as a young player -- and even older players -- if you're in a slump you have to play your way back out of that slump by playing hard on defense, your hustle game and being a team-first guy," Terry said. "Those are the things you have to do to play your way out of a quote-unquote scoring slump.
"We need him to score, no question about that. But as opposed to, hey, you have to score your way back in, no, play your way back in. Play hard on defense, do the hustle things and then the offense will come. You'll get something easy and you're back in the flow again."
Video: Coach Terry's highlights
Terry breaks down the Bulldogs' recent highlights heading into Wednesday night's Mountain West game against Wyoming at the Save Mart Center.
Owootoah earning minutes
Freshman point guard Emmanuel Owootoah had barely played through the Bulldogs' first seven Mountain West games -- he got one minute in the opener against UNLV, seven at Boise State, did not play against Air Force, was on the floor for one minute at Colorado State, only a few seconds in a late-game foul situation at San Diego State and did not play against New Mexico or Nevada.
But Owootoah and forward Alex Davis were first off the bench at UNLV, entering five minutes into game, and Terry said the freshman had earned more playing time.
"We wanted to get him more involved over the last couple of games," Terry said. "Obviously, we have to have trust and confidence in him that he's going to do his job and be ready to go, but we made a conscious effort to make sure we got him in the game. We need him to give us some quality minutes, and I thought he gave us a good lift when he came in the other night."
Owootoah played six minutes at UNLV, knocked down the only shot he took and grabbed an offensive rebound, one of 21 the Bulldogs had in the game.
"I think he's practicing at a level where he's earned those minutes for game time," Terry said. "Whether it's five minutes, eight minutes, 10 minutes, whatever need be."
Fresno State has had trouble making plays at the end of close games this season, including last week in a double-overtime loss to Nevada and an overtime loss at UNLV.
The Bulldogs could find themselves in a similar situation needing to make plays down the stretch Wednesday night against Wyoming, which has won four games in a row.
The Cowboys have played six games decided by three points or fewer and four of their six conference games have been decided by a single 3-point basket.
** The overtime game at UNLV was the Bulldogs' fifth this season, tying a Mountain West and school record. Fresno State is 3-2 in those games, winning at UC Irvine (98-97) and beating Bakersfield (96-86) and Northern Arizona (71-67).
** The Bulldogs are 8-0 all-time at home against Wyoming.
** The Cowboys rank second in the conference and 15th in Division I in scoring defense, allowing only 60.6 points per game. They have won at Boise State, against San Jose State, at Air Force and against Nevada in a four-game winning streak in which they have allowed just 56.8 points per game. Wyoming held Boise State to 50 -- and the Broncos are leading the MW at 78.8 per game. Wyoming gave up 62 to Nevada, which is averaging 74.1, and held the Spartans and Falcons to less than their scoring average as well.
** Wyoming forward Larry Nance Jr., earned Mountain West player of the week honors after averaging 19.5 points, 11.0 rebounds and 2.5 blocks in victories last week over Air Force and Nevada. Nance hit 58.3% (14 of 24) of his shots and had only three turnovers in 82 minutes.
MEN'S BASKETBALL: FRESNO STATE VS. WYOMING
** Wednesday: 7 p.m. at the Save Mart Center
** Records: Bulldogs 8-13, 1-7 MW; Cowboys 13-6, 4-2
** TV/radio: Mountain West Network/KFIG (AM 940)
** Series: Fresno State leads 10-7 overall and 8-0 in Fresno
** Bulldogs: Senior guard Tyler Johnson has scored 20 or more points in five of past seven games while redshirt sophomore point guard Cezar Guerrero has scored 10 or more in 19 of the Bulldogs' 21 games. ... Starting Wednesday, fans can buy $5 upper reserved day-of-game tickets.
** Cowboys: Sophomore guard Josh Adams (11.9 ppg, 2.6 apg) has scored in double figures in eight of last nine. ... Junior guard Riley Grabau (10.7 ppg) has made 23 consecutive free throws and is shooting 90% on the season.
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