Fresno State took a loss at Arizona, playing a team ranked No. 13 in the nation, and that makes three losses in four games now for the Bulldogs after a 5-0 start. But they looked better off going forward in spite of it, which was not necessarily the case at Cal Poly five days earlier.
The Bulldogs held up well on the boards Wednesday against one of the best rebounding men’s basketball teams in the nation. And with Arizona matching up in man, they played with a much better pace at the offensive end, attacking the paint and taking advantage of their opportunities in transition. They didn’t settle for jump shots, got off to a solid start and when down nine with 7:19 to play and struggling through a stretch where they hit only 1 of 9 shots and had three turnovers, they fit the pieces back together and made a run.
“We just stayed together, were taking it possession by possession, getting stops and converting like we knew we could,” said senior guard Marvelle Harris, who scored six points in a 10-2 run that got Fresno State to within 71-70 with 2:57 to go. “Once we did that, the game was right back there for us.”
The Bulldogs, coach Rodney Terry said, needed to find that again after struggling at the start in three games in a row, including a victory over an NAIA team in The Master’s College. The Bulldogs hit only 13 of 31 shots in the first half of that game (41.9 percent) and had seven turnovers.
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And they need to keep pushing it forward on a four-game homestand that starts Saturday against Pacific and leads into Mountain West Conference play.
“We shared the basketball, had a lot of assists,” Terry said. “We did a good job on the glass and I thought we played with great pace of play, both offensively and defensively.
“Now we have to bring that same thing and understand that’s how we want to attack on a regular basis. That’s what we’ve said were going to try to do – we want to try to own the Mountain West (logo in the lane) and really drive the basketball. It’s just doing it every day, working it every day. It’s finding the right mindset and understanding that’s what we’re trying to get done. There’s no magic formula with that. You just have to keep competing and keep playing.”
Robert Kuwada: @rkuwada