Utah State forward Daron Henson crushed Fresno State on Saturday, drilling a 3-pointer with 0.2 seconds remaining to give the Aggies a 65-62 victory over the Bulldogs at the Save Mart Center and before that, he did plenty of damage to a team that had a chance to extend a winning streak to four games.
Henson hit 6 of 7 shots from the 3-point line in scoring a career-high 18 points in 26 minutes and had a zero on his stat line everywhere else – except for fouls; he did have four fouls.
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But there were no rebounds, no free throw attempts, no assists, no turnovers, no blocked shots, no steals.
The redshirt freshman, who got the dreaded DNP-CD when Fresno State lost to the Aggies 81-79 in overtime on Jan. 3 in Logan, Utah, had hit just 32.5 percent of his shots this season and was averaging 4.1 points per game.
For the Bulldogs, it only gets worse from there.
That shooting percentage broken down is 37.3 percent at the 3-point line (22 of 59) and, this is not a typo, 20.8 percent on his 2-point shots (5 of 24).
At the foul line Henson had hit 55.0 percent (11 of 20), which makes the 3-point proficiency against the Bulldogs really stand out, even if they are only 10th in the Mountain West defending the 3-point line.
In Mountain West games this season, only two players have hit more 3-point shots.
Nevada guard Kendall Stephens had seven in a Jan. 6 victory at Air Force, but he has hit 43.8 percent of his 3-point shots this season, ranking fifth in the Mountain West.
Boise State forward Chandler Hutchison hit seven in a Jan. 13 victory over San Diego State and while he has hit 38.3 percent of his 3-pointers he is the leading scorer in the Mountain West, averaging 19.7 points per game.
New Mexico guard Antino Jackson also hit six in a Jan. 20 victory over the Aztecs. He has hit 41.2 percent of his 3-point shots.
On his game-winning shot, Henson was along the baseline when the Aggies put the ball in play coming out of a timeout with 14 seconds remaining and brought Bryson Williams out with him to set a screen for Koby McEwen 27 feet from the basket.
The Bulldogs were switching everything, but Henson didn’t set much of a screen on Jaron Hopkins, who had made the going difficult for McEwen all game and finished with a double-double with 11 points and 11 rebounds. Henson just slipped between them, quickly, and Hopkins next step was with McEwen and not the Aggies forward, who went looking for space to his left.
Henson was momentarily free and able to find a comfy spot on the floor. McEwen got him the ball and he got his shot up from about 28 feet with just 1.5 seconds on the clock and just ahead of Hopkins scrambling back to close out.
“We were going to switch any kind of ball screen and action that they had at that particular time and we needed to do it with urgency in the process,” coach Rodney Terry said.
“We knew McEwen was going to be a guy that had the ball in his hands and obviously Henson had shot the ball really well the entire game. They put him in the action and we switched off and give him credit, we tried to switch out there like we did and he made a big shot.”
The six 3-pointers by Henson also were as many or more than four Mountain West teams had on Saturday – Air Force had six, Colorado State had five and UNLV and San Jose State each had four.
Henson got away from the Bulldogs, but Fresno State also hurt itself at times with turnovers and some wayward foul shots.
The Bulldogs had taken good care of the basketball in their three-game winning streak, turning it over just eight times against New Mexico, and nine times at both San Diego State and against UNLV.
They also had just eight turnovers in a loss to Boise State, before that winning streak started.
In the loss to the Aggies the Bulldogs had 15 turnovers, six of them coming on offensive fouls including all three turnovers by Terrell Carter II.
Were they all fouls? Did the Bulldogs adjust poorly to the way the game was called?
Yes or no, the Aggies turned those turnovers into 18 points.
Utah State had seven turnovers, three on offensive fouls.
One of the first things to check anytime the Bulldogs lose is how they did at the free throw line. Did they get there? Did they make their foul shots?
No, and no.
In this one they almost missed as many as the Aggies attempted.
Fresno State was 11 of 19, 57.9 percent.
Utah State was 6 of 10, 60 percent.
The key number for the Bulldogs has been 23 – they are 33-7 (.825) over the past two-plus seasons when attempting that many foul shots in a game.
But the on-again off-again foul shooting cost them.
The Bulldogs had hit 74.6 percent of their free throws over the past three games, all wins. But this season they have hit 71.4 percent of their free throws in games they have won (252 of 353) and just 63.0 percent in the games they have lost (85 of 135).
Robert Kuwada: @rkuwada
FRESNO STATE AT NEVADA
- Wednesday: 8 p.m. at Lawlor Events Center
- Webcast/radio: CBSSports Network/KFIG (AM 940)
- Records: Bulldogs 15-7, 5-4 Mountain West; Wolf Pack 18-4, 7-1
- Of note: The Wolf Pack has not played since a 104-103 overtime loss at Wyoming on Wednesday when it choked away an undefeated start to Mountain West play. Nevada, the third-best free throw shooting team in the league, hit only 7 of 15 foul shots in the final five minutes of regulation and the overtime. The Wolf Pack had made their first 23 free throws. The loss snapped a streak of 13 consecutive Mountain West wins and seven consecutive conference road wins – the Wolf Pack were one win away from tying both marks. Nevada won the first matchup with Fresno State, 80-65 at the Save Mart Center on Dec. 27, 2017. Kendall Stephens led the Wolf Pack in that game with 19 points, hitting 6 of 10 shots including 5 of 7 at the 3-point line. Caleb Martin had a double-double for the Wolf Pack with 18 and 10.