Fresno State Basketball

Fresno State men’s basketball: Marvelle Harris seals comeback victory

The Fresno State Bulldogs showed up at Save Mart Center on Wednesday night in second place in the Mountain West, a half-game ahead of Boise State and New Mexico, a full game ahead of Nevada.

To stay there with three games remaining all they had to do was beat Air Force, which was 10th of 11 in the standings, had not won a game on the road in conference play and had lost those games quite large. Six of those seven losses came by double-digits, and all by an average of 20.9 points.

But the Bulldogs still almost played their way into a four-way tie before rallying from a double-digit deficit in the final 11:30 to clip the Falcons 64-63 on a pair Marvelle Harris free throws with 4.7 seconds remaining.

Harris, who had only two points when the Bulldogs were down 11 midway through the second half, scored their final 12 points of the game and finished with 20 along with five assists, four steals, three blocked shots and three rebounds.

“I remember saying to him with about 10 minutes to go, ‘It’s your time now. You have to be aggressive. You have to step it up with right now,’ ” coach Rodney Terry said. “And he did. He did in a big way. It was his time.”

Fresno State (19-9, 10-5 MW) took a season high-tying 30 shots from the three-point line, making only nine (30 percent). The Bulldogs also were outrebounded 31-28 by a team that was 10th in the conference in rebounding margin at a minus-2.2.

But Harris brought the Bulldogs back, their fifth win in as many games that were decided by three points or less. A three-point play with 1:20 remaining got them to within 63-60.

Fresno State, pressing off the Harris free throw, forced an Air Force turnover. Cezar Guerrero was called for an offensive foul driving to the basket, but Guerrero came up with a steal with 47 seconds to go that set up two more free throws by Harris to get the Bulldogs within one point with 40 seconds remaining.

The Falcons’ Jacob Van missed a contested jumper at the other end with the shot clock running down, Cullen Russo rebounded and Harris took the ball right to the rim and was fouled to head back to the line. Harris had missed two free throws when down two with seven seconds remaining in overtime in a loss at Nevada, but he made both foul shots to cap a 10-0 Fresno State run over the final 1:53.

“After Nevada, it was a hard loss,” Harris said. “We just talked about it in the locker room. Nobody put their head down. Nobody got down on me. They just patted me on the back and said, ‘Do better next time.’ Today was the same opportunity and that support helped me a lot.”

Said Terry: “He stepped up at a very high level. To me, Marvelle is the best player in the league. I’m a little biased because I’m his coach, but he has been really poised, he worked the game. He had two points at halftime, but he had four assists.

“He was sharing the basketball, wasn’t trying to be overly aggressive. He trusts his teammates right now and again I think this team has really bought into whatever it takes right now in terms of winning.”

FRESNO STATE 64, AIR FORCE 63

AIR FORCE

Min

FGM-A

FTM-A

OR-TR

A

PF

PT

Graham

38

4-13

1-2

0-9

0

3

11

Toohey

25

1-1

1-3

1-2

1

2

4

Siples

30

3-5

0-0

0-3

4

5

7

Kocur

38

6-11

4-4

0-8

1

2

19

Van

39

4-11

0-0

1-3

3

1

11

James

14

1-1

1-1

0-0

1

2

3

Broekhuis

2

0-1

0-0

0-0

0

0

0

Moer

14

3-3

2-2

0-2

1

4

8

Totals

200

22-46

9-12

5-31

11

19

63

Percentages: FG .478, FT .750. 3-Point Goals: 10-20, .500 (Van 3-4, Kocur 3-7, Graham 2-6, Toohey 1-1, Siples 1-1, Broekhuis 0-1). Team Rebounds: 4. Blocked Shots: 0. Turnovers: 16 (Kocur 4, Graham 4, Siples 3, Moer 2, Toohey, Van, James). Steals: 3 (Van 2, Kocur). Technical Fouls: None.

FRESNO STATE

Min

FGM-A

FTM-A

OR-TR

A

PF

PT

Russo

34

2-6

3-5

2-6

2

2

7

Lewis

29

3-9

0-0

1-6

1

2

9

Guerrero

31

1-7

1-2

0-3

5

2

4

Bittner

9

1-1

0-0

0-3

1

4

2

Harris

38

6-13

5-5

1-3

5

3

20

Watson

8

1-3

0-0

0-0

0

0

2

Edo

26

5-5

2-4

3-4

0

2

12

Taylor

16

2-6

0-0

0-1

1

2

6

Ellison III

7

0-0

1-2

0-1

1

1

1

Carter II

2

0-0

1-2

0-0

0

2

1

Totals

200

21-50

13-20

8-28

16

20

64

Percentages: FG .420, FT .650. 3-Point Goals: 9-30, .300 (Harris 3-8, Lewis 3-8, Taylor 2-5, Guerrero 1-6, Russo 0-1, Watson 0-2). Team Rebounds: 1. Blocked Shots: 5 (Harris 3, Edo 2). Turnovers: 14 (Russo 5, Lewis 4, Guerrero 2, Carter II, Taylor, Harris). Steals: 10 (Harris 4, Russo 3, Lewis 2, Guerrero). Technical Fouls: None.

Air Force

41

22

63

Fresno State

33

31

64

A—6,284. Officials—Randy McCall, Verne Harris, Rodrick Dixon.

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