Fresno State had to play without forward Alex Davis on Saturday, the Bulldogs’ only senior suspended indefinitely for actions detrimental to the team, and that only exacerbated what was a glaring weakness that they carried into a Mountain West Conference matchup at Colorado State.
They were in deep with or without Davis — he is averaging 4.1 rebounds in 23.1 minutes per game. But the Rams pounded the boards and beat up the Bulldogs around the basket, limiting them to one shot while taking advantage of second-chance opportunities at the other end of the floor in handing Fresno State its worst loss of the season, an 80-57 rout at Moby Arena.
Colorado State (19-3, 6-3) had a 49-29 rebounding advantage and 15 offensive boards that led to 22 second-chance points, the most Fresno State has allowed this season by eight. New Mexico, San Jose State and Nevada all had racked up 14.
“The second chances, 22 points on second chances, that’s the game,” coach Rodney Terry said. “We can talk about all the other stuff, but we knew coming in that’s their identity. They rebound the basketball. They shoot it. They go get it. They’re a physical team.”
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The Bulldogs have struggled with that on their most difficult road stretch of the season, absorbing losses at San Diego State and at Colorado State after a 5-2 start to conference play.
The Rams are now the third team in a row to grab 10 or more offensive rebounds against the Bulldogs, following Nevada with 19 and San Diego State with 17, and over that stretch Fresno State has been outrebounded by an average of 15.3 per game.
And once Colorado State got going at the offensive end, the Bulldogs were done. That was early in the second half, with the Rams pushing a 35-22 halftime lead to 19 in less than 4 minutes and eventually to as many as 30 at 69-39 with 6:54 to go on a layup by J.J. Avila.
Fresno State (10-12, 5-4) defended well in the first half — the Rams hit just 12 of 33 shots (33.6%). But that all went away in the second, when the Rams made 17 of their first 25 and 19 of 31 overall (61.3%) in the half.
The Bulldogs could not keep pace, stuck as they were in the half court. Marvelle Harris and Cezar Guerrero both had 16 points, but Fresno State did not shoot the ball well, hitting 17 of 52 (32.7%) including 11 of 33 inside the 3-point line.
But much of that came back to their inability to finish possessions at the defensive end.
“When you don’t rebound the basketball it doesn’t allow us to play to probably our main strength of our team, which is getting out and playing in transition and playing fast,” Terry said. “That negates one of the strengths that you have and now you’re having to play five on five the whole time.”
Forward Braeden Anderson got 15 minutes — he had played 12 over the past four games. Freshman center Terrell Carter II played 10 minutes, his first time on the floor since the conference opener at New Mexico, and grabbed five rebounds including two at the offensive end.
And with Davis suspended indefinitely, both will get a chance to make an impact around the rim. The Bulldogs get San Jose State on Wednesday at the Save Mart Center, but then are right back in the grinder with a game at UNLV and then Boise State and Colorado State coming to Fresno.
“It gives another guy an opportunity to try and get something done,” Terry said. “I’m going to play guys who continue to try to buy into what we’re doing and how we’re doing it. Collectively as a team we’re going to work on getting better and we have to challenge each other to continue to get better from a physical standpoint — guards, bigs, everybody working together to try to fix our rebounding problem.”