Fresno State Basketball

Fresno State men’s basketball: Bulldogs hold firm in win over Utah State

Fresno State’s Marvelle Harris goes in for a layup after a steal against Utah State during Saturday’s Mountain West Conference game at Save Mart Center. Harris scored 22 points as the Bulldogs won 75-68.
Fresno State’s Marvelle Harris goes in for a layup after a steal against Utah State during Saturday’s Mountain West Conference game at Save Mart Center. Harris scored 22 points as the Bulldogs won 75-68. ASSOCIATED PRESS

Fresno State never did get away, but never did the Bulldogs fall behind, and though in tight with Utah State through a second half where they were not separated by more than two possessions most of the way, they never lost a semblance of control.

Some second-half leads, and big ones at that, had gotten away this season, a 19-point lead was cut to 1 before beating San Jose State, a 17-point lead was lost into an overtime and then double-overtime before beating UNLV.

Not this time.

The Bulldogs simply made plays, answering when threatened and pulling away in the final minute to claim a 75-68 victory Saturday before 7,068 at the Save Mart Center, only their third crowd of more than 7,000 in 16 home dates.

That it was not always Marvelle Harris, Cezar Guerrero or Cullen Russo – even with the Bulldogs still playing short-handed – was very telling, with four games remaining in the regular season and Fresno State now 18-9 overall and 9-5 and tied for second in the Mountain West Conference.

Whether an offensive rebound, an assist, a block out, help at the defensive end or applying just enough pressure to force a turnover, the Bulldogs got it done.

“They’re trusting their teammates,” said coach Rodney Terry, who has the Bulldogs 4-1 since Torren Jones went down, followed by Karachi Edo, Paul Watson and for one game Terrell Carter II. “I think we have an unselfish team right now and everybody has bought in. My challenge with them is to want more and to want to continue to improve and get better as a team.”

The Bulldogs could get much better soon. Edo returned after missing three games because of a wrist injury and had 10 points, three rebounds and two blocks.

Watson, who has missed the past three games, is close to returning from a calf injury. Jones, who has missed five games because of a medical issue, is to see physicians Wednesday and could be cleared to return to practice.

Jones still is the Bulldogs’ second-leading scorer and leading rebounder at 10.5 points and 7.9 rebounds per game; Watson is fourth in scoring at 9.0 points per game.

“I said to the guys that are not playing right now to want to get on the train with what the guys are doing right now,” Terry said. “They’re 100 percent bought in right now in terms of how we have to play and how hard we have to compete.”

Against Utah State (13-12, 5-9), the Bulldogs had 18 assists on 25 field goals for a season-high assisted-basket percentage of 72 percent. Over the past three games, that percentage is 60.6 percent.

At the defensive end, down the final 7:37 in a two-possession game, Fresno State allowed Utah State to make only 3 of 11 shots, 1 of 6 beyond the three-point line, and forced three turnovers by the third-best shooting team in the conference.

Terry went nine deep in getting there, 11 considering Jones and Watson were out.

“I think a lot of guys have stepped up and shown us they’re capable of doing things and helping out the team,” said Harris, who led the Bulldogs with 22 points to go with five assists, three rebounds and two steals. “By their absence, I think it helped a lot of guys feel confident and made us a better team.”

In playing tight the whole way against the Aggies, the Bulldogs received good minutes off the bench from Edo, Jahmel Taylor (five points, two rebounds and two assists in 14 minutes), Lionel Ellison (four points, five rebounds and two assists in 21 minutes) and Carter (three points, three rebounds and one steal in nine minutes).

When Utah State got within 67-65 with 1:38 to go, Julien Lewis made a deft pass to Russo at the free-throw line, and he coolly knocked down a jumper.

The Aggies’ Shane Rector missed a contested layup at the other end, with Harris grabbing the rebound and passing to Russo for a layup.

“Guys have had each other’s backs,” Terry said. “Guys have really tried to pick one another up. Even the guys that are not playing for us right now, they’ve really tried to work with those guys and kept them engaged with what we’re doing and how we’re doing it and keeping those guys involved.

“That’s why a Karachi Edo could come back in tonight and not miss a beat, because the other guys spend time with them whether we’re working offense, whether we’re working on defensive things. Those guys really keep them up to speed with what we’re doing.”

Robert Kuwada: @rkuwada

 

Up next

FRESNO STATE VS. AIR FORCE

  • Wednesday: 7 p.m. at Save Mart Center
  • Records: Bulldogs 18-9, 9-5 Mountain West; Falcons 14-14, 5-10 (beat New Mexico 78-72 on Saturday)
  • Webcast/radio: Mountain West Network (themwc.com)/KFIG (AM 940), KGST (AM 1600)

FRESNO STATE 75, UTAH STATE 68

UTAH STATE

Min

FGM-A

FTM-A

OR-TR

A

PF

PT

Evans

28

2-8

1-2

0-6

2

1

6

Taylor

16

2-4

2-2

1-3

1

5

6

Perkins

25

2-4

2-2

1-4

1

1

8

J Moore

35

4-8

4-4

2-6

5

1

13

Smith

36

4-11

1-2

1-5

2

4

11

Rector

21

4-7

5-6

0-4

1

2

13

Pearre

26

1-5

5-8

1-1

0

3

7

Middleton

1

0-0

0-0

0-0

0

0

0

Jones

12

2-2

0-0

0-1

0

2

4

Totals

200

21-49

20-26

7-33

12

19

68

Percentages: FG .429, FT .769. 3-Point Goals: 6-25, .240 (Perkins 2-4, Smith 2-7, J. Moore 1-4, Evans 1-5, Rector 0-2, Pearre 0-3). Team Rebounds: 3. Blocked Shots: 3 (Rector, Smith, J. Moore). Turnovers: 14 (Smith 4, Rector 4, Evans 2, Pearre 2, Taylor, Jones). Steals: 3 (J. Moore, Perkins, Evans). Technical Fouls: None.

FRESNO STATE

Min

FGM-A

FTM-A

OR-TR

A

PF

PT

Russo

37

6-14

5-5

0-5

4

2

17

Lewis

24

0-3

0-0

1-3

3

3

0

Guerrero

22

5-9

0-0

1-6

2

5

14

Bittner

11

0-2

0-0

0-1

0

0

0

Harris

39

5-15

10-10

1-3

5

2

22

Edo

23

5-7

0-1

3-3

0

1

10

Taylor

14

2-4

0-0

0-2

2

3

5

Ellison III

21

1-3

2-2

0-5

2

2

4

Carter II

9

1-4

1-2

1-3

0

4

3

Totals

200

25-61

18-20

11-35

18

22

75

Percentages: FG .410, FT .900. 3-Point Goals: 7-21, .333 (Guerrero 4-6, Harris 2-7, Taylor 1-2, Bittner 0-2, Russo 0-4). Team Rebounds: 4. Blocked Shots: 2 (Edo 2). Turnovers: 6 (Guerrero, Harris, Ellison III, Taylor, Carter II, Edo). Steals: 7 (Harris 2, Russo, Carter II, Ellison III, Guerrero, Edo). Technical Fouls: None.

Utah State

37

31

68

Fresno State

44

31

75

A — 7,068. Officials — Michael Irving, Brad Ferrie, Sirallen Conner.

  Comments