Fresno State Basketball

Fresno State rises and falls on 3-pointers, and those shots were falling at Wyoming

Fresno State guard New Williams (0) has struggled with his shot in the past two games coming off the bench, going 0 of 8 and 0 of 2. Williams had averaged 14.5 points per game when starting the six previous games.
Fresno State guard New Williams (0) has struggled with his shot in the past two games coming off the bench, going 0 of 8 and 0 of 2. Williams had averaged 14.5 points per game when starting the six previous games. ASSOCIATED PRESS

Fresno State likes 3-point shots, which is abundantly clear at this point. New Williams does, too. The Bulldogs guard has had basketball games where he has knocked them down, a 5-of-7, a 3-of-5, a 2of-4, but there also have been nights when his shot was off.

Wednesday night at Wyoming was not one of those nights

Williams knocked down 9 of 12 shots including 6 of 8 from the 3-point line in scoring a game-high 24 points in the Bulldogs’ 75-62 victory over the Cowboys.

“We got settled in, understood how they were playing their zone,” Williams said. “They were stretching it out on the outside on perimeter guys, so the high post was open.

“They were leaving our four man open, and once our four man started attacking really well they started to collapse in and that opened up some open shots.”

The Bulldogs had hit just 8 of 30 threes in a loss at Colorado State to open a two-game road trip. The first half at Wyoming was only marginally better. But after Aguir Agau and Deshon Taylor started making plays from the middle of that zone, Williams opened up what had been a one- or two-possession game the whole way by knocking down a three on three consecutive trips down the floor.

“They’re in a zone, so somebody is going to have to make some shots and New stepped up,” coach Justin Hutson said. “New, Noah (Blackwell) and Nate (Grimes) stepped up and put that ball in the basket. Aguir and D.T. got into the middle of that zone and kicked it out. It was a good team effort that way.”

From a tie with 8:52 to go, Fresno State just that quick had a 7-point lead and soon enough was running away as the threes continued to fall.

The Bulldogs, 3 of 15 from three in the first half, were 9 of 14 in the second.

“It feels good,” Williams said. “I work on my shot so much. I work so hard to do whatever I can to help my team. Colorado State, it wasn’t falling, so I tried to make sure I made up for it at the defensive end.

“But this game, I came out the same way I do every night, and it felt good.”

The Bulldogs also got a three from forward Nate Grimes, three of his 16 points. The 6-foot-8 junior has that shot, but was just 2 of 9 this season He knocked it down like it was nothing, part of a stretch where the Bulldogs broke the game open by hitting 10 of 12 shots including six 3-pointers.

Fresno State (15-5, 6-2 in the Mountaiin West) needed those shots. Blackwell, who entered at the 15:59 mark in the first half and played 20 minutes coming back from a hamstring injury, was 3 of 4, all on threes. But the rest of the Bulldogs struggled to convert some open looks – Taylor, Braxton Huggins and Sam Bittner were a combined 3 of 18 and 2 of 10 at the 3-point line.

“I’m proud of my team and how we came up here and we got this ‘W,’ how we came out in the second half and played a lot better,” said Blackwell, who also had three assists.

“But you know, shooters shoot. We have shooters on our team and you just have to believe in your shot and it’s probably going to go in. New, that’s what he does. He’s a knock-down shooter. There were some that were contested and there were some that were wide open, and we know he’s going to knock those shots down.”

Robert Kuwada: @rkuwada
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