Fresno State Basketball

Fresno State men’s basketball: Bulldogs rout Colorado State, add momentum for postseason

It was about 15 minutes before tip and Fresno State had to open the upper deck Wednesday night at Save Mart Center for the first time this season, with 9,948 crowding their way into the arena. When the game started, the Bulldogs went about showing them what they had been missing.

The home team started slowly, but by halftime had a 20-point lead on Colorado State built in large part by Marvelle Harris, Julien Lewis and Cezar Guerrero, who were honored before the game in a Senior Night ceremony. From there, it was just a matter of limiting and answering any runs by the Rams, which they did in working their way to an 87-73 victory that was their seventh in eight games and moved them one win closer to clinching second place headed to next week’s Mountain West Conference Tournament.

And they carried those good feelings off the floor, after the three seniors exited over the final 1:22 to standing ovations, first Lewis and Guerrero and then Harris.

Harris, pushing for Player of the Year honors in the conference, got to take a pass on the postgame news conference to spend time with family in town for his final home game.

But Lewis, Guerrero, coach Rodney Terry and Cullen Russo hit the high points on where they were as a program and where they are now.

“When I first transferred in I was like, ‘Whoa, this is a different environment coming from Texas,’ ” Lewis said. “But building from the ground up, how it improved over time and how much the community helped us and was behind us the three years, even before that the community started to come around and I really appreciated that.

“There are a lot of different things, but ultimately happy, really, about the game today. Today was really special for all of us, not just us seniors.”

Said Guerrero: “First and foremost, I’m just happy we won and we won on Senior Night. You know, we’re still not done yet. We still have another game and we want to get a ring, that’s the ultimate goal for us.

“This is just one game in the building block and luckily we ended Senior Night the right way and got the win and I got to experience it with my fellow seniors, my teammates and the great coaching staff. All in all, I’m happy to be a Fresno State Bulldog, so today is a great day.”

The days ahead look much differently than they did even a few months ago as well. The Bulldogs (21-9, 12-5), with one game remaining in the regular season Saturday at Utah State, are the hottest team in the conference.

In that first half, they held the highest scoring team in the Mountain West to 23 points, its lowest scoring half this season. The Rams (15-15, 7-10) hit nine of their first 27 shots (33.3 percent) and turned over the ball 10 times, leading to 15 Bulldogs points.

“Big time,” Terry said. “I mean, 23 points against that team that can really shoot the basketball and score the basketball, that was scoring 80 points a game? Man, we sat down and really guarded. Coach (Larry) Eustachy’s teams have always had a physical mindset on the glass and I thought we did a pretty good job on the glass, as well.”

And, after the first 4-plus minutes, that is just the way it went.

Fresno State controlled the game behind its seniors but also got productive minutes going nine deep.

Lewis, who led the Bulldogs with a career-high 30 points, knocked down 11 of 16 shots including 6 of 7 beyond the three-point line. In the past two games, he is 19 of 27 (70.4 percent) and 11 of 13 (84.6 percent). Before that, he had hit 10 three-pointers all season.

Harris scored 23 to go with six rebounds and four assists, his eighth consecutive game with 20 or more points. Guerrero scored four and had three rebounds and three assists.

The Bulldogs also got 13 points and five rebounds from Karachi Edo and Russo had seven points, 10 rebounds and six assists.

And with one more win and the Bulldogs will be the No. 2 seed at the conference tournament. The worst they can do is the No. 3 seed, if they were to lose at Utah State and Boise State were to win at San Jose State.

“I just think we realize that if we play together as a team and play for everybody and not for ourselves that we can beat anybody,” Russo said. “I think everybody really bought in. Coach always says you have to be two feet in, you can’t be one foot in and one foot out and everybody has had two feet in lately.

“Everybody is believing in each other, believing in our motto and just keeping it going.”

Getting the most out of Juice – Through the Bulldogs’ first 28 contests, Lewis utilized a solid midrange game to account for the majority of his points. Of his 181 shots, 80.1 percent or 145 had come inside the three-point line. Shooting it from long range, he was 10 of 36.

The 11 of 13 on threes over the past two games, then … a little out of the ordinary.

Adding to the weirdness factor, of the top eight three-point shooters in the conference by percentage, only four of them have hit more than 11 threes in back-to-back games and none came all that close to matching Lewis and his 84.6 shooting percentage.

  • 14: Antwan Scott (Colorado State) 8 of 11 and 6 of 11, 63.6 percent
  • 14: Josh Adams (Wyoming) 9 of 16 and 5 of 9, 56 percent
  • 13: Jason McManamen (Wyoming) 8 of 15 and 5 of 8, 56.5 percent
  • 11: Julien Lewis (Fresno State) 5 of 6 and 6 of 7, 84.6 percent
  • 11: Elijah Brown (New Mexico) 4 of 7 and 7 of 17, 45.8 percent

Scott started the week ranked third in the Mountain West hitting 42.5 percent of his three-pointers, Adams was fifth at 38.4, McManamen was second at 45.2 and Brown was fourth at 39.6. Lewis? He was at 35.7 percent and 27.8 percent before starting his run going 5 of 6 at NewMexico.

Post-time favorite? – Eustachy after the game: “They (Fresno State) just left The Pit (at New Mexico) with 90 points and they’re in second place for a reason. I thought we played terrific in the second half, for the most part, but that’s part of the problem coming in and having to lay around all day. But that’s no excuse. … You learn from it, though. When we played right, we held our own, but when we didn’t, they made us pay. Those guys are really, really good. I almost think they have to be the favorite going into the tournament next week.” 

Et cetera – Say this for the Bulldogs, they are consistent. They hit 55.3 percent of their shots in the game, going 16 of 30 in the first half and 16 of 30 in the second half and have had the exact number of makes and shots in both halves for a second game in a row. In their victory at New Mexico they hit 50 percent, going 15 of 30 in each half.

▪ After starting the game 1 of 7, Fresno State hit 31 of its last 53 shots and missed more than two in a row just once – missing three in the second half before knocking down five in a row and 6 of 9 to end the game including three threes.

▪ In winning 7 of 8, the Bulldogs have more steals (73) than turnovers (67).

▪ In that same stretch, Fresno State has forced 116 turnovers while committing 67 and scored 159 points off turnovers to just 79 by its opponents.

Robert Kuwada: @rkuwada

Up next

FRESNO STATE AT UTAH STATE

  • Saturday: 6 p.m. at Dee Glen Smith Spectrum in Logan
  • Records: Bulldogs 21-9, 12-5 Mountain West; Aggies 15-13, 7-10
  • Webcast/radio: ESPN3/KFIG (AM 940)

FRESNO STATE 87, COLORADO STATE 73

COLORADO STATE

Min

FGM-A

FTM-A

OR-TR

A

PF

PT

Omogbo

24

3-9

2-3

2-9

2

2

8

Daniels

28

5-5

1-3

4-8

0

2

11

Scott

36

4-14

3-7

0-3

1

4

15

Gillon

31

2-6

4-4

0-1

4

3

9

De Ciman

25

5-9

1-2

0-3

1

2

15

Jackson

14

4-8

0-0

1-4

0

2

8

Richardson III

19

2-6

0-0

1-4

0

1

5

Nixon

3

0-0

0-0

0-0

2

1

0

Paige

20

1-5

0-0

0-1

5

3

2

Totals

200

26-62

11-19

12-38

15

20

73

Percentages: FG .419, FT .579. 3-Point Goals: 10-23, .435 (De Ciman 4-5, Scott 4-8, Gillon 1-2, Richardson III 1-4, Paige 0-2, Omogbo 0-2). Team Rebounds: 5. Blocked Shots: 1 (Daniels). Turnovers: 14 (De Ciman 4, Omogbo 3, Paige 2, Jackson 2, Nixon, Scott, Richardson III). Steals: 4 (Scott 2, Omogbo, Paige). Technical Fouls: None.

FRESNO STATE

Min

FGM-A

FTM-A

OR-TR

A

PF

PT

Edo

30

6-7

1-2

2-5

0

2

13

Russo

31

2-3

3-6

2-10

6

3

7

Lewis

34

11-16

2-2

1-2

0

0

30

Guerrero

30

2-8

0-0

0-3

3

4

4

Harris

35

8-18

7-9

1-6

4

3

23

Taylor

12

1-3

1-2

0-2

3

2

4

Shell

1

0-0

0-0

0-0

0

0

0

Ellison III

8

2-2

0-0

0-0

1

1

5

Bittner

4

0-0

0-0

0-1

0

1

0

Campbell

1

0-0

0-0

0-0

0

0

0

Carter II

14

0-3

1-2

1-5

0

2

1

Totals

200

32-60

15-23

8-36

17

18

87

Percentages: FG .533, FT .652. 3-Point Goals: 8-20, .400 (Lewis 6-7, Ellison III 1-1, Taylor 1-3, Russo 0-1, Guerrero 0-4, Harris 0-4). Team Rebounds: 2. Blocked Shots: 4 (Carter II 2, Harris, Edo). Turnovers: 8 (Harris 3, Edo 2, Guerrero, Lewis). Steals: 8 (Guerrero 3, Harris 2, Russo, Edo, Lewis). Technical Fouls: None.

Colorado State

23

50

73

Fresno State

43

44

87

A — 9,948. Officials — Tom O’Neill, Michael Irving, Nate Harris.

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