Cezar Guerrero blew up and Fresno State just blew it.
With a chance to extend their winning streak to six, which would have been their longest in conference play since the 1993-94 season, the Bulldogs lost their composure and more on the way to a 72-66 defeat to Wyoming on Tuesday at the Arena-Auditorium in Laramie.
Even when granted a reprieve and an opportunity when the Cowboys lost leading scorer Larry Nance Jr. to a right knee injury with 14:51 remaining, they could not get out of their own way, particularly on the defensive end where they struggled to stay in front of the ball.
It started with Guerrero, who was shouting at teammates and coaches during a timeout with 4:36 remaining in the first half and had to be escorted to the locker room by assistant Michael Schwartz. He remained there for the rest of the half.
"Cezar is an emotional player and obviously understanding he has to channel his emotions the right way and stay composed for 40 minutes and work the game. It's something he's gotten better with, and it's something he has to continue to work on," coach Rodney Terry said.
"It was nothing we couldn't get right. It wasn't a matter of getting things right, it was just a matter of understanding what we wanted to get done and how we wanted to do it."
Guerrero came back in the second half, and Terry downplayed the incident after the game.
"That's not an issue right there. You try to make that an issue, that's not an issue right there," he said.
The Bulldogs had plenty of others in losing for the first time since a Jan. 25 overtime game at UNLV.
After leading by as many as six in the first half, they scored just three points over those final 4-plus minutes without Guerrero and trailed by 25-23 at halftime.
They were down seven when Nance went down, after taking an awkward step in the lane, and the Cowboys extended the lead to 40-31 on a pair of free throws by guard Nathan Sobey.
But the Bulldogs (13-14, 6-8 Mountain West) made their way back into the game. They went on a 9-0 run, which included a jumper and a 3-pointer from Tyler Johnson to tie it at 40.
But that was as far as they could get while shooting poorly. The Bulldogs hit 21 of 55 (38.2%), including 3 of 11 (27.3%) beyond the 3-point line, their lowest since the loss at UNLV.
The Bulldogs had hit at least 40% in their past five games, with a high of 53.3% the last time they played Wyoming, a 67-62 victory at the Save Mart Center that started their streak.
With Nance on the training table,a bag of ice on his right knee and a towel over his head, Wyoming (17-9, 8-5) still was able to right itself and started going right at the basket.
The 6-foot-8 junior is their leading scorer and has taken a team-high 24.3% of their shots in conference play, but without him on the floor the Cowboys still were able to do enough to get away from the Bulldogs.
Guards Nathan Sobey (26 points), Riley Grabau and Josh Adams were able to get into the lane much too easily. The Bulldogs, a step slow, were left to foul or give up easy baskets.
Fresno State had 31 fouls called against it to just 18 for Wyoming. Alex Davis, Johnson and Guerrero all fouled out.
Wyoming made 33 of 44 free throws, and it hit 51.4% of its shots inside the 3-point line.
Sobey hit 15 of 17 free throws. Grabau was 6 of 6 and Adams 4 of 4.
"We knew going into this game we had to play without fouling, we didn't do a great job staying in front and they got to the line and they made free throws" Terry said.
The reporter can be reached at email@example.com or @rkuwada on Twitter. Read his daily Fresno State updates at fresnobee.com/bulldogs/.