Fresno State played a basketball game on Saturday with a share of first place in the conference at stake, which had not happened in a long time. It was 2010-’11, back in the WAC, when the Bulldogs started conference play 3-0 only to lose their next four and 10 of 13 and end up in seventh place. But in that triple-overtime loss to Wyoming at the Save Mart Center they showed enough to know that they can get back there again if they can start to knock down some shots, particularly at the 3-point line.
Hasn’t really happened yet, but it certainly can with where they are and where they have been.
The Bulldogs hit only 35.7% against the Cowboys (25 of 70), which is their worst shooting game at the Save Mart Center this season, and just 20.6% at the 3-point line (7 of 34), which believe it or not is not the worst game on the home floor this season. They were 3 of 17 (17.6%) against Utah State.
And, really, it does not take anything more than a small correction to the norm, which is why the Bulldogs no doubt will spend some time working on game shots in practice this week with a couple of extra prep days in there before taking on Nevada on Saturday at the Save Mart Center.
Fresno State hit 35.7% of its shots at the 3-point line last season and is down to 29.8% through 19 games this season, which is one of the biggest dips in a conference that has some poor shooting teams. Five of the 11 Mountain West teams are ranked between 308th and 351st and last in Division I in 3-point shooting percentage, and Nevada (minus-8.4, 33.9% to 25.5%), San Diego State (minus-8.2, 35.8% to 27.6%), the Bulldogs (minus-5.9, 35.7% to 29.8%) and San Jose State (minus-5.5, 33.2% to 27.7%) have taken some precipitous drops from one year to the next.
And right now, the Bulldogs’ key scorers all are below their career numbers, either overall, at the 3-point line or both. There are reasons that play into that — Julien Lewis missed close to three weeks of preseason practice due to a concussion, for instance. But here are the numbers:
• Career FG: 41.9%. Career 3-pt. FG: 36%.
• 2015 FG: 46%. 2015 3-pt. FG: 31.7%.
• Career FG: 38.1% Career 3-pt. FG: 34%.
• 2015 FG: 37.3%. 2015 3-pt. FG: 15.7%.
• Career FG: 44.4%. Career 3-pt. FG: 37.9%.
• 2015 FG: 39.5%. 2015 3-pt. FG: 35.6%.
• Career FG: 39.3%. Career 3-pt. FG: 33.2%.
• 2015 FG: 37.5%. 2015 3-pt. FG: 35.3%.
Fresno State did play into the Cowboys’ hands a bit by taking so many shots at the 3-point line — Wyoming is 17-0 when its opponent takes 24 or more shots from behind the arc in three-plus seasons under coach Larry Shyatt — but coach Rodney Terry had no problem with the shots.
The Bulldogs had to work at the offensive end against Wyoming and its zone — it is second in the conference and fourth in Division I in scoring defense at 53.3 points per game — but there were good looks in there even though they were 1 of 3 in the first overtime, 1 of 5 in the second overtime and 0 of 6 from the 3-point line in the third overtime.
“You have to be a confident shooter,” Terry said, after the game. “I said to Marvelle and to Julien Lewis, ‘Keep shooting the basketball.’ I said to Paul Watson, ‘Hey, we got great looks, man. That’s a wide-open shot. You have to shoot that ball.’ We’re confident. We’re a confident team playing against zone. We’re confident in guys shooting the basketball. There’s no hesitation. If you’re open, shoot the basketball.”
Those shots just didn’t go down — the Bulldogs went through two stretches where they missed four consecutive shots, one where they missed six in a row and one where they missed eight in a row.
To get back up, they will have to make a few more. But not a few more than they have proven capable.
“It is very frustrating, but you just have to tell yourself keep shooting, keep letting it go and the next one will go. You have to have a short-term memory and be ready to knock down the next shot,” said Watson, who did hit 8 of 14 shots against the Cowboys.
Rough one for Wolf Pack
Nevada was absolutely crushed in a 98-42 loss at Colorado State even though the Rams were without their best player in forward J.J Avila, who was suspended for the game.
The Wolf Pack missed 16 of their first 17 shots, were behind 16-2, 25-3, 30-5, 40-10 and at halftime trailed 55-12. At that point, backup guard Gian Clavell had more points off the bench than Nevada had scored, hitting 5 of 6 shots including 4 of 5 at the 3-point line and dropping 17 on the Wolf Pack. Nevada had more than twice as many turnovers as made baskets, 12 to five. And it had no chance of coming back against the Rams, who given the final score could have not bothered to take a shot or missed every shot that they did take in the second half and still won by double-digits.
“It wasn’t kind of embarrassing,” coach David Carter told the Reno Gazette-Journal. “It was embarrassing.”
And, it was the worst loss ever in a Mountain West game.
Colorado State 98, Nevada 42; Jan. 14, 2015
: Air Force 88, Wyoming 43; Feb. 3, 2007
New Mexico 100, Wyoming 55; Feb. 9, 2008
Brigham Young 91, Colorado State 47; Jan. 16, 2010
Utah 96, UNLV 52; Feb. 21, 2000
The largest margin of victory in any game involving a Mountain West program? 83 points, when San Diego State drilled Saint Katherine College 118-35 on Dec. 27, 2013.
• Boise State wingJames Webb III
was 7 of 7 at the 3-point line in the Broncos’ win at New Mexico. There have been players hit more threes in a game — the conference record is 10 by New Mexico guard Kendall Williams at Colorado State in 2013 and Boise State guard Jeff Elorriaga against Corban in 2012 — but that is the most makes in conference history while hitting 100% from the 3-point line. Four players have gone 6 of 6 at the 3-point line — Fresno State guard Keven Olekaibe at Colorado State in 2013, Wyoming guard Nathan Sobey at Air Force in 2013, Wyoming guard David Adams against Tennessee State in 2003 and Texas Christian guard Blake Adams at UNLV in 2007. Williams was 10 of 13 and Elorriaga was 10 of 16.
•San Diego State
won at No. 25 Wyoming 60-52 despite missing its last 10 shots and 11 of 12, the last make coming with 9:58 remaining in the game. The Aztecs scored their last 14 points at the free-throw line and coupled with a victory at Kansas last season it has now won back-to-back road games against ranked opponents for the first time in school history. The Aztecs are 4-5 since 2010-’11 on the road against Top 25 teams, after losing 45 of its first 46 as a Division I program.
got to play San Jose State, albeit on the road, after drilling Nevada. The average margin of victory in those two games was 42.5 points, 168 to 83.
fell to 1-3 in conference play in an overtime loss at Boise State, which won its first conference game to get to 1-3. The extra five minutes were not the best basketball the Rebels have played this season, hitting only 1 of 4 shots and turning over the ball six times.
• The last five minutes were not kind to theRebels
in that loss at Boise State or four days later in a 53-47 loss at San Diego State. In the overtime and down the stretch of those two games, the Rebels scored only nine points, hitting 2 of 11 shots with six turnovers.
• Scoring points continues to be an issue forSan Jose State
, which is 2-16, 0-6 in the Mountain West and has yet to beat a Division I team this season. In a 70-41 loss to Colorado State, the Spartans managed to make only 10 field goals, the fewest they have had in a game going back through the 2006 season. San Jose State missed its first eight shots against the Rams and didn’t make one for the first 8:55 of the game until Jaleel Williams hit a 3-pointer.
had 22 assists on 26 made baskets in a victory over the Air Force, running its assisted baskets percentage to 75% in its five Mountain West games. That is tied for the second best mark in Division I and best in the conference by a large margin. New Mexico is second at 64.6%.
Racking up 30
In that Boise State victory at New Mexico, guard Derrick Marks scored 31 points, his fourth game with 30 or more points this season, tying him for fifth most in the Mountain West Conference.
Marks has a chance to move up that list, but, really, only so far.
The Mountain West record for 30-point games in a season is 16, set by Brigham Young guard Jimmer Fredette in 2010-’11. Fredette had a conference record 52 points in a victory over New Mexico in the conference tournament, was in the 40s three times and the 30s 12 times.
The Top 5:
• 1. Fredette (Brigham Young): 16 times in 2010-’11
• 2. Ruben Douglas (New Mexico): 11 times in 2002-’03
• 3. Fredette: eight times in 2009-’10
• 4. Marcus Banks (UNLV): six times 2002-’03
• 5. Four times, most recent Marks in 2014-’15