Fresno State was there, had a chance on the road against No. 21 TCU, even hitting just 33.3 percent of its shots through the first 20 minutes of basketball including a higher percentage from behind the 3-point line than in front of it.
But the Bulldogs’ defense gave way in a 77-69 loss on Thursday at Schollmaier Arena in Fort Worth, Texas, falling into a double-digit hole that proved too deep given their poor shooting and 14 turnovers, eight in the second half.
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“We did not play as well defensively as we needed to in the second half, and a lot of that had to do with TCU and being on the road, but we definitely have to get better,” Fresno State coach Justin Hutson said.
“The first half we held them to 35 percent, but they shot 66 percent from the field in the second half and we’re not going to win any games on the road playing like that.”
Fresno State (1-1) cut its deficit to five points at 54-49 with 9:38 to play, but turnovers on back-to-back trips down the floor allowed the Horned Frogs (3-0) to hop away, with guard Desmond Bane hitting 10 of 15 shots in scoring a game-high 23 points.
Christian Gray had a turnover that led to a 3-pointer by Bane, then Noah Blackwell had a turnover that led to a basket by R.J. Nembhard.
Bane was 6 of 7 in the second half when TCU hit 20 of its 30 shots, getting an assist on 14 of 20 made baskets. Senior Alex Robinson added 13 points, the two TCU guards hitting a combined 15 of 28 shots including 3 of 6 at the 3-point line.
The Bulldogs could not keep up, though Braxton Huggins led them in scoring for a second game in a row with 18 points and New Williams came off the bench to score 17.
Huggins and Williams shot a combined 13 of 24 from the floor; the rest of the Bulldogs were 14 of 47, 29.8 percent.
“We just have to lock in on defense,” said Williams, who also had four rebounds, three steals and blocked a shot in 27 minutes. “It was a learning experience for us. We played some pretty good defense in the first half and we needed to pick it up on offense, and in the second half we needed to pick it up on defense.
“We’re going to get better from it. We’ve got to play 40 minutes, and we have to play hard the entire way through. We did a good job of that in the second half, and we just have to continue that through the entire game.”