Fresno State Basketball

Fresno State men’s basketball beats UNLV, reaches Mountain West semifinal

Fresno State’s Marvelle Harris shoots against UNLV during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game at the Mountain West Conference men’s tournament Thursday, March 10, 2016, in Las Vegas.
Fresno State’s Marvelle Harris shoots against UNLV during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game at the Mountain West Conference men’s tournament Thursday, March 10, 2016, in Las Vegas. AP

Right at the start the Fresno State Bulldogs just took off, knocking down seven shots in a row, which is not something that had happened often in Mountain West Conference play. Just once, in fact, the last time they had played UNLV. Julien Lewis scored first Thursday night, then Marvelle Harris got to the rim on back-to-back possessions. Cezar Guerrero hit a jump shot, then Lewis scored, Harris and Lewis again.

The Rebels, coming out of a triple-overtime marathon just to get to the quarterfinal round of the conference tournament, gave chase but never caught up.

If there was a point the Bulldogs might have hit the skids it was in the second half, after Harris picked up a third and then fourth foul. Still, 10:49 to go there, the lead 10, and the player of the year in the conference going to the bench. But the team that had won eight of its last nine games did everything it had in locking up a No. 2 seed and secured a spot in the semifinals with a 95-82 victory over the Rebels at the Thomas & Mack Center.

“We needed every guy and every guy has a value on this team,” coach Rodney Terry said. “You play one minute, two minutes, three minutes – we need every guy doing their job. We knew this was going to be a hard game. You have to come in on a talented team’s home court. They just came off a big win the night before. They have some very talented players that can score the basketball and you have to come play. You have to compete.”

Lewis was there, extending a late-season run with 27 points including 10 in the second half. Over the past four games, he has now hit 33 of 57 shots (57.9 percent) including 15 of 23 at the three-point line (65.2 percent) in averaging 22.5 points.

Doing anything differently?

“No, not really,” he said. “Just been shooting the ball at a high level and we’ve been working on shots. Coach Terry always makes us work on our shot after practice every day, and before practice, and I’ve been doing it at a high level and my teammates have been doing the same thing with me.”

Sophomore center Terrell Carter also played large in there, with Harris on the bench. He used his bulk against Stephen Zimmerman, the Rebels’ 7-foot freshman center, scoring back-to-back baskets down low and then grabbing an offensive rebound and putback.

“He’s a big body. He can get things done for us in the paint,” Harris said of Carter. “I think by him getting into Zimmerman, forcing him to have to guard and deal with that big post presence, it got to him, got him tired and opened up the lane a little bit. He did a great job sealing when guards were driving and finished at a high level.”

But Fresno State (23-9) got much more. Karachi Edo, who had been limited to just five minutes in the first half due to foul trouble, scored 12 points and had three rebounds and one assist in the second half. Jahmel Taylor knocked down a big three-pointer. Guerrero had 11 points and three assists in the second half, finishing with 17 and four, along with five rebounds. Cullen Russo hit only 2 of 9 shots, but had seven rebounds including five at the offensive end and four assists.

The Bulldogs had five players score 10 or more points for only the third time this season – Lewis, Guerrero, Harris, Carter and Edo – and also had assists on eight of their first nine baskets in the second half and 13 of 19 over the final 20 minutes.

Harris with 16 snapped a streak of nine consecutive games with 20 or more, but there were few anxious moments, even when he went to the bench.

“I wasn’t excited about that,” Terry said. “But I thought his teammates did a great job of stepping up and doing what we have been doing down the stretch of the season.”

Fresno State remained in control, stayed there when Harris came back and after he fouled out with 1:47 remaining and now is one win away from playing for the MW Tournament title and a spot in the NCAA Tournament, its last Big Dance coming in 2001.

The Bulldogs will play No. 6 seed Colorado State, which beat No. 3 Boise State 88-81 Thursday night, at 8:30 p.m. Friday.

And they go into it at a high rate of speed – Fresno State has scored 92, 87, 86 and now 95 points in its past four games, wins at New Mexico, against Colorado State, at Utah State and over UNLV, and has topped 80 in four games in a row for the first time since the 2006-07 season. A year ago, they hit 80 against a Division I opponent just once.

FRESNO STATE 95, UNLV 82

FG

FT

Reb

Min

M-A

M-A

O-T

A

PF

PTS

Lewis

38

10-19

4-5

1-8

1

3

27

Edo

18

5-8

2-2

2-4

1

2

12

Guerrero

22

4-6

8-8

2-5

4

1

17

Russo

34

2-9

0-0

5-7

4

3

4

Harris

30

8-17

0-3

0-3

5

5

16

Watson

3

0-0

0-0

0-0

0

0

0

Taylor

19

1-4

3-4

0-2

1

1

6

Ellison III

10

0-0

0-0

0-3

0

1

0

Bittner

4

0-1

0-0

0-0

0

1

0

Campbell

0

0-0

0-0

0-0

0

0

0

Carter II

22

6-9

1-2

3-6

1

2

13

Totals

200

36-73

18-24

14-40

17

19

95

Percentages: FG .493, FT .750.

3-Point Goals: 5-16, .313 (Lewis 3-5, Guerrero 1-2, Taylor 1-4, Russo 0-1, Bittner 0-1, Harris 0-3).

Team Rebounds: 2.

Blocked Shots: 5 (Edo 3, Russo 2).

Turnovers: 7 (Carter II 2, Harris 2, Russo, Lewis, Edo).

Steals: 6 (Taylor 3, Russo, Guerrero, Harris).

Technical Fouls: None.

FG

FT

Reb

Min

M-A

M-A

O-T

A

PF

PTS

Seagears

38

6-8

4-4

2-4

11

4

17

Cornish

32

1-6

2-4

1-5

1

1

4

McCaw

37

11-17

3-4

1-3

0

1

28

Zimmerman Jr

27

5-11

3-3

1-6

0

5

13

Nwamu

36

5-11

1-3

0-7

1

4

12

Cheaney

12

1-4

0-0

0-0

0

1

3

Poyser

18

1-6

3-4

2-4

0

4

5

Totals

200

30-63

16-22

8-31

13

20

82

Percentages: FG .476, FT .727.

3-Point Goals: 6-22, .273 (McCaw 3-7, Seagears 1-3, Cheaney 1-3, Nwamu 1-4, Zimmerman Jr. 0-1, Poyser 0-2, Cornish 0-2).

Team Rebounds: 2.

Blocked Shots: 2 (Zimmerman Jr., McCaw).

Turnovers: 14 (Nwamu 5, Zimmerman Jr. 3, Seagears 2, Cornish 2, Poyser).

Steals: 3 (Seagears, Poyser, McCaw).

Technical Fouls: Zimmerman Jr..

Fresno St.

40

55

95

UNLV

35

47

82

A—NA.

Officials—Mike Reed, Eric Curry, Brad Ferrie.

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