"We talked about being so close and being right there," said Fresno State Head Coach Rodney Terry. "And it's a game of inches. We've got to want those inches. We've got to be so hungry and so determined… because we're right there… And we're never going to be satisfied with being right there."
Fresno State would fight back to make it a one possession game. But trailing by three points with 21 seconds remaining, Oregon's E.J. Singler sank a fade away jump shot as the shot-clock expired to give the Ducks a five-point lead. A final free throw by guard Jonathan Loyd in the final seconds put the game away for Oregon.
While Oregon was getting an 18-point boost from Minnesota transfer Devoe Joseph in his first game for Oregon, Fresno State suffered a huge loss when Kevin Olekaibe left the game with an injured ankle.
He tried to return to the game, but was not effective with the pain in his ankle. Olekaibe finished with just four points in 18 minutes. Terry expects Olekaibe to be back in the Bulldogs' line-up for next Saturday's game versus Cal Poly.
"They're older guys, they make plays at the end of the game," said Terry. "Having an older player like Devoe [Joesph] this time of year join your team only helps your team… He showed that tonight down the stretch for his team."
Without a big contribution from Olekaibe, who averaged 21.6 points per game heading into Oregon, the Bulldogs were still able to step up offensively. Fresno State had four players in double figures, with Jonathan Wills leading the way with 20 points. Jerry Brown and Tyler Johnson each had 13 points, and Kevin Foster added 11. The Bulldogs played just seven players. Fresno State did miss Olekaibe's three-point presence however, as it finished just 3-of-14 from behind the arc.
"Jonathan Wills has bought in 100% in terms of what we're asking him to do and what his role is," said Terry. "He's trying to give us the leadership the leadership we're asking to give us as a senior."
While Fresno State stayed competitive offensively without Olekaibe, they could not slow down Oregon's hot shooting night. The Ducks shot 56% from the field.
The Bulldogs did win the turnover and offensive rebounding battles, as the ‘Dogs put up 13 more shots than Oregon did from the field. Fresno State did not need a big second half comeback this game, as they trailed by just two points at halftime.
Fresno State drops to 4-6 and gets a week off as players prepare for finals. The Bulldogs next game is at home against Cal Poly on Saturday, December 17.
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