Fresno State was down 12 points at New Mexico and cut it to five, down 14 and cut it to four, down 12 and cut it to three.
The Bulldogs, with Jahmel Taylor and Ray Bowles in foul trouble, with Deshon Taylor sidelined for a time by cramping, got there. They tied the score with 17 seconds remaining on a 3-ball by Jahmel Taylor, capping a 7-0 run in the final 1:35 of regulation, and survived a final shot to win by the Lobos. And then ...
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That was it. The Bulldogs did not score a basket and missed three foul shots in the overtime in a 96-86 loss to the Lobos on Saturday at Dreamstyle Arena in Albuquerque, falling to a No. 4 seed next week at the Mountain West Conference Tournament.
"I thought we've shown that resilience all year long," coach Rodney Terry said. "We're not a team that's going to lay down or not respond to runs. I thought our guys did a nice job responding to their runs. Obviously, we gave them some points in transition, but we put ourselves in position to have a chance win this game."
The Bulldogs (21-10, 11-7 in the MW) didn't, and will play No. 5 San Diego State at 2:30 p.m. Thursday in Las Vegas; the Aztecs are headed to the Thomas & Mack Center on a six-game winning streak, including a 79-74 victory Saturday over regular-season champion Nevada.
Fresno State beat San Diego State twice this season, winning 77-73 at Viejas Arena and 79-61 at the Save Mart Center.
The Bulldogs had a chance to steal the No. 3 seed and a more favorable match up, but after making run after run back into the game they fizzled in the overtime.
Jahmel Taylor was on the bench for nearly a 10-minute stretch in the second half before returning with 6:09 to go and knocking down five shots in a row including four 3-pointers as the Bulldogs closed. He finished with a career-high 23 points. Deshon Taylor also had 23 points, hitting 6 of 13 shots and 10 of 12 foul shots.
With Bryson Williams adding 14, Ray Bowles 11 and Terrell Carter II 10, the Bulldogs lost for the first time this season with five players scoring in double-digits. They had been 9-0.
New Mexico got away in the overtime on a 3-pointer by Antino Jackson with 1:16 to go, going up 88-84. Jackson was 3 of 12 and 1 of 7 at the 3-point line when he let that shot go.
Fresno State was without Bowles by that time: the senior guard fouled out 36 seconds into the overtime. Answers down the stretch were difficult to come by.
"We have some older players and they're guys that played significant minutes for us this year," Terry said. "They're guys that we rely on heavily. You lose Ray Bowles seconds into the overtime, it's going to be really hard for us," Terry said. "We're going to need all of those guys."
Williams turned it over on the Bulldogs' next possession, Troy Simons coming up with a steal. The next time down Jahmel Taylor missed a pair of foul shots.
The Lobos' Chris McNeal made it a three possession game with 42 seconds remaining, hitting a pair of free throws.
"I thought J.T. did a good job of staying in the game with four fouls and sitting as long as he did," Terry said. "He came back in and played at the level he did, having had to sit for a period of time. But other guys stepped up."