For 32 minutes, it was a grind. Fresno State and Utah State went at it, led by their best scorers in the backcourt – the Bulldogs’ Deshon Taylor versus the Aggies’ Koby McEwen.
It was a two-point difference in a game where the largest lead in the second half was just six.
It was there the Bulldogs put together a run, worked their way to a 10-point lead with 4:12 to go.
But that wasn’t enough to keep them out of an overtime or from an 81-79 loss Wednesday at Dee Glen Smith Spectrum in Logan that turned into a nightmare for Taylor in the final minutes.
“That was rough down the stretch,” coach Rodney Terry said. “We had opportunities to do that and we didn’t do it.”
Taylor was right in the middle. The Bulldogs’ leading scorer had 22 points in regulation, hitting 9 of 14 shots.
But with Fresno State up one with 4 seconds to go, the Bulldogs ran a play to get the ball in to Taylor, who had hit 85.1 percent of his foul shots. He got fouled and went to the line, but missed the front end of a 1-and-1.
Then, as McEwen was making his way upcourt as the seconds dwindled away, Taylor fouled him just past midcourt with 0.9 seconds remaining.
“Just not a smart play,” Terry said. “You have to underfstand time and situation.”
Utah State had a chance to win it right there with McEwen at the line.
The sophomore guard hit the first shot, but missed the second and the Bulldogs still had an opportunity in overtime. It didn’t last long.
Fresno State (11-5, 1-2 Mountain West) built a 75-71 lead, but Diogo Brito hit a shot from the 3-point line, Taylor missed at the rim and McEwen came down, got to the basket and scored to give the Aggies a lead.
Baskets weren’t as easy to come by for the Bulldogs as they were in the first half when Bryson Williams was put up 10 points, hitting all three of his shots, and the Bulldogs were scoring at the rim. They hit 14 of 25 shots (56 percent) and 32 of 62 in the game (51.6 percent).
But as the overtime continued, they were done.
“They started double-teaming and Bryson scored against some tough double teams to begin with,” Terry said.
“Down the stretch, obviously we had rode a good wave of that, so they had to make some adjustments and out of that they’re not going to give you that. The ball gets passed back out and you have to make some plays.”
Taylor missed, and the Aggies’ Quinn Taylor scored. It was 78-75, still with 58 seconds to go. But Fresno State could not get back even.
The Bulldogs were 28 of 49 (57.1 percent) when Deshon Taylor scored on a drive with 4:12 in taking 10-point lead, but 4 of 13 the rest of the way.
McEwen finished with 28 points, hitting 10 of 18 from the field and 5 of 8 foul shots. Deshon Taylor had 24, going 10 of 17 and 3 of 4 with a lot of frustration at the free-throw line.
Robert Kuwada: @rkuwada
FRESNO STATE AT COLORADO STATE
- Saturday: 2:30 p.m. at Moby Arena, Fort Collins, Colo.
- TV/radio: CBSSportsNetwork/KFIG (AM 940)
- Records: Bulldogs 11-5, 1-2 Mountain West; Rams 8-8, 1-2
- Of note: The Rams lost to San Diego State 77-68 on Tuesday at Moby, snapping an 11-game winning streak on their home court. Colorado State had a 1-point lead with 5:54 to go, but the Aztecs closed on a 17-7 run. The Rams were outrebounded by a 45-32 margin and also hit only 40.3 percent of their shots.