The poor shooting continued Monday as Fresno State shot just 35.8% from the field after their 27.8% effort Saturday versus Utah State on Saturday. Idaho took advantage and led the final 17:08 of the game after trailing the last 13:24 of the first half. The Vandals shot 69.6% in the second half (61.4% overall) as they won their sixth game in a row to improve to 12-6 overall, 5-1 in WAC. The Bulldogs drop to 7-9, 3-3 in WAC, after losing their third consecutive game.
“Two very different halves,” said Fresno State head coach Steve Cleveland. “The thing that is most disappointing to me was after playing such great defense [versus Utah State] we allowed a team to shoot 61% on our floor.
Fresno State took a 34-30 lead to start the second stanza before Idaho went on a 7-0 run to take their first lead of the game since 5-2 at the 17:47 mark of the first half. The Vandals extended it to a 15-6 run taking a 45-38 lead before Cleveland called timeout with 13:42 to play.
Bracken Funk’s free throw broke the run and Garrett Johnson’s three-pointer followed making it a one-possession game but the Bulldogs would get no closer the rest of the game.
“In the second half, we were very careless with the ball,” said Cleveland. “We weren’t very good defensively.”
Idaho answered with another 7-0 prompting Cleveland to call another timeout with 8:50 to play with the ‘Dogs trailing 52-42. But this time the Bulldogs couldn’t answer. The Vandals extended their run to 14-2 and eventually built their lead 17, 63-46, with 3:38 to play in the game.
Smith recorded his second double-double this season with 11 points and 10 rebounds. Garrett Johnson and Kevin Olekaibe both had nine points. Kyle Barone led Idaho with a game-high 18 points. Shawn Henderson added 15 for the Vandals.
Fresno State started strong breaking a 7-7 tie at the 15:00 mark of the first half on a Tim Steed layup. Aided by back-to-back Olekaibe three-pointers, the Bulldogs jumped out to an eight-point lead, 15-7.
“In the first half, we had energy and momentum,” said Cleveland. “In the series of three plays, we missed a dunk and two layups. And it went from an eight-point to the game being close again.”
Idaho head coach Don Verlin was called for technical foul at 6:16 mark of the first half. Kevin Olekaibe made one of two free throws matching the ‘Dogs largest lead of the game at eight, 23-15. The ‘Dogs took possession, Greg Smith missed a dunk, and then FS went cold. Idaho rallied to cut the deficit to three until Tyler Johnson’s put back with 3:13 to play in the first half.
Henderson would hit a 35-foot three-pointer at the buzzer to bring the Vandals within two at the break, 32-30.
Fresno State next travels to Hawaii on Thursday. Tip is set for 9 p.m. PT.
Steven Shepp started but played only 12 minutes and did not attempt a shot. Cleveland says it wasn’t a good game for Sheep because of Idaho’s zone defense. “He’s not a shooter that’s why I went with Tyler [Johnson].” Johnson played 22 minutes, scored seven points, and recorded six rebounds.
John Ryan played his most extensive action of the WAC season. In his 10 minutes on the floor, he scored four points and recorded three rebounds.
All 11 Bulldogs dressed played Monday. Only Jonathan Wills and Shepp failed to score.
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