Men's basketball: Fresno State extends roll, beats Boise State (video)

The Fresno BeeFebruary 26, 2014 

Marvelle Harris hit 9 of 11 shots including 4 of 4 from beyond the 3-point arc, scoring 26 points to go with seven rebounds and an assist. He had it working no doubt -- didn't miss a shot until there was 10-plus minutes to go Wednesday night.

But the best play the Fresno State guard made in a 76-56 victory over Boise State might be one that doesn't show up by his name in the box score.

With the Broncos on a 7-0 run and cutting as deeply as they could into a Fresno State lead that hit 22 points early in the second half, Nick Duncan tracked down an offensive rebound left of the lane, giving Boise State a chance to reload, to cut the deficit to 11, or 10 with a 3-pointer. But Harris engaged, taking a swipe at the ball, which caused Duncan to lose it off his leg and out of bounds.

There was no contact with the ball or with Duncan, Harris said, but that right there was the end of the run. "I tried to scare him. ... I guess it worked," he said.

The Bulldogs scored the next seven points, squashing the Broncos to get to 15-14 and -- after a 1-7 start -- to 8-8 in the Mountain West Conference, which is something no team has been able to do.

Boise State (18-10, 8-7) was leading the conference in scoring and had won three in a row, beating New Mexico, Colorado State and UNLV. The Broncos had hit 48.1% of their shots in those games, averaging 86 points.

Fresno State never let them anywhere close to that -- the Broncos hit only 38% of their shots, including 2 of 18 3-point tries.

Boise lost leading scorer Anthony Drmic with what appeared to be an ankle injury with 11:32 to go, but the Bulldogs had made him a non-factor to that point. He was 0 of 4, finishing with two points.

Guard Derrick Marks, second on the team in scoring at 15.7 ppg, struggled to find shots when the Bulldogs were in man or in zone. He was 2 of 7, scoring four points.

Forward Ryan Watkins, one of 17 players in Division I averaging a double-double per game and a significant matchup issue for the Bulldogs, spent a long stretch on the bench in the first half with foul trouble, and couldn't make enough of an impact in the second half.

After getting and making one shot in the first half, he finished 5 of 8 for 12 points, but had only six rebounds.

And when they went to make a run, Harris turned them back.

"You're talking about the 7-minute mark (6:56 to play), around that time there. That game is still in the balance, but we're about three stops away from winning this game," coach Rodney Terry said.

"We've just got to get stops and that was one of about three that we put together. It's not going to show up in the box as a steal or whatever for us, but that was a big possession."

Boise State scored six points the rest of the way, and the Bulldogs raced away. Defense fueled the offense -- Harris stepped in a passing lane for a steal and had another when poking the ball away from Watkins in the low post, and Tyler Johnson had another steal.

"We stayed together all game, were there for one another," Harris said. "If one person got beat on defense, he knew he had help. We were just there for each other. We played as a team."

Fresno State had six steals in the game and outscored the Broncos 21-2 off turnovers. It was not going to let Boise State cut too deeply into the lead.

"I like to think we're past that stage in our development," said Johnson, who had 15 points, seven rebounds and six assists. "We used to do that. That was the old Bulldogs, getting out to a good lead and then giving it up, not being able to sustain it, not being able to make winning plays at the end.

"But I think we've turned the corner as a group. It's not always going to go our way. We understand that teams are going to make runs -- nobody is just going to accept being beaten by 20. Understanding (that), controlling what you can control, and continuing with your game plan, I think that's what we did."

The reporter can be reached at rkuwada@fresnobee.com or @rkuwada on Twitter.

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