There were three foul shots at the 13:15 mark and Colorado State guard Prentiss Nixon knocked them down one after the other, the Rams turning what had been a 10-point deficit in the first half into an eight, nine, 10-point lead in the second.
At that point, Fresno State had allowed the worst shooting team in the Mountain West at 40.3 percent to hit 20 of 39 shots, 51.3 percent.
Nixon, who had hit 37.1 percent of his shots this season, was 4 of 6. Jeremiah Paige, who had hit 35.4 percent, was 3 of 5.
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They were the Rams’ No. 1 and No. 2 in shot attempts, No. 1 and No. 3 in scoring.
Just more clues that the Bulldogs were a bit off at the start of conference play. But they recovered nicely in those final 13 minutes in an 82-79 overtime victory on Saturday at Moby Arena in Fort Collins, Colo., winning the game with the aid of what has been a staple for coach Rodney Terry and his Bulldogs teams.
In the overtime there was a steal by Jahmel Taylor that led to a layup by Jaron Hopkins and a two-possession lead with 2:21 to go, and then a steal and score by Deshon Taylor with 22 seconds remaining that put the Bulldogs up by five.
“We talked the whole game about help-side defense, and J.T. was in a good position,” Terry said.
“We did a good job with good ball pressure on the other side and made it difficult for those guys to initiate their offense – and any time you pass the ball across the court like that if you’re in the right position you have a chance for something like that to happen for you, and J.T. was right where he needed to be.”
The Bulldogs had reached Mountain West play averaging 8.6 steals per game, but had none in a loss to Nevada, three in a victory over Air Force and six in an overtime loss at Utah State on Wednesday. They had five against the Rams through 40 minutes of basketball before Jahmel Taylor and Deshon Taylor made their plays and seven in the game, which is closer to where they have been in past seasons.
Fresno State (12-5, 2-2 MW) has led the conference in steals for three consecutive seasons, was second in 2014 and tied for first in ’13 with UNLV.
Last season, the Bulldogs averaged 8.4 steals per game and no other team in the Mountain West averaged even 7.0 per game.
So there was that and there were stops, which they were not able to string together down the stretch in the loss at Utah State and quite suddenly they seem right again.
“I felt like the first one, Utah State, we gave that game away,” said Deshon Taylor, who scored a game-high 22 points with five rebounds, three assists and three steals.
“We were up 10 with three minutes left and we stopped executing. ... I felt that everybody wanted to make sure we didn’t go back home 0-2, so everybody kept fighting.”
From that 13:15 mark, Colorado State hit only 7 of 24 shots (25.0 percent) and had four turnovers.
Nixon finished 2 of 5 with two turnovers. Paige was 2 of 10 with one turnover.
“I thought the other night, two similar games, I just think a couple of nights ago we just didn’t finish the game obviously,” Terry said. “We had to find a way the other night in terms putting some consecutive stops together and then chip away offensively and try to execute the things that we were trying to get done.
“I thought we did that down the stretch and finally got the game on our terms a little bit, or back to our terms in the process of doing that.”
If at first you don’t succeed ...
The Bulldogs outrebounded Colorado State 44-43 even with Rams center Nico Carvacho pulling down 19 rebounds including eight at the offensive end, and have now held a rebounding advantage in 14 of their 17 games.
They also had 14 offensive rebounds to 13 for the Rams and a big thing in this game is what they did with those opportunities.
Fresno State: 20 second-chance points.
Colorado State: 4 second-chance points.
The 19 rebounds is not the high-mark in the conference this season. Carvacho had 20 rebounds in a victory over Winthrop and UNLV forward Shakur Juiston had 19 in a victory over Rice.
Another statistical anomaly in the Bulldogs’ favor – they made more free throws than Colorado State attempted, and they did it hitting only 63.3 percent of their foul shots.
Fresno State was 19 of 30 at the line with Deshon Taylor and Bryson Williams each taking 10 foul shots, Taylor going 8 of 10 and Williams 5 of 10.
The Rams were 13 of 18 at the line.
The Bulldogs are in their sixth season in the MW and that has happened for them as a road team in conference play only twice – in an 81-76 win at Nevada last season Fresno State was 20 of 25 to 14 of 19 and in a 69-56 win at San Jose State in 2014 it was 14 of 23 to 7 of 11.
Robert Kuwada: @rkuwada
BOISE STATE AT FRESNO STATE
- Tuesday: 8 p.m. at Save Mart Center
- TV/radio: ESPNU/KFIG (AM 940), KGST (AM 1600)
- Records: Bulldogs 12-5, 2-2 Mountain West; Broncos 13-3, 3-1
- Of note: Boise State blew a 16-point halftime lead and lost at Wyoming 79-78 in overtime on Saturday night, but had breezed through their first three conference games beating Colorado State 93-71, winning at UNLV 83-74 and beating New Mexico 90-62. Chandler Hutchison led the Broncos with 27 points in the loss to the Cowboys and hit a shot to give them a 3-point lead with 2:59 to go in the overtime, but they were 0 of 4 from there.