After trailing by 20 points in the second half, Fresno State went on a 13-to-1 run in a span of just over four minutes. The Bulldogs’ full court pressure disrupted Cal Poly, forcing turnovers and timeouts in the backcourt. The run closed a 20-point deficit to single digits, but Fresno State was only able to keep within single digits for 15 seconds.
A mid-range jump shot by Dylan Royer gave the Mustangs a double-digit lead, and Cal Poly strung together 10 unanswered points to put the game out of reach. Royer’s deep range three would be the dagger to put the game away with 3:41 remaining.
“I think they got back to doing what they do in terms of execution,” said Fresno State Head Coach Rodney Terry. “When you have older teams, they understand game time situations in terms of when a team goes into a run like we did… they settle back in. When we needed to get a stop, they got a score.”
The Bulldogs trailed 27-18 in the final minute of the first half. With 2.4 seconds left, Kevin Olekaibe hit a 3-pointer as the shot clock ran out to cut the lead to six points and looked to give the ‘Dogs momentum headed into half. However, Cal Poly point guard Amaurys Fermin’s half court shot dropped right through the net as time expired to extend the lead back to nine, and reverse momentum back into the Mustang’s favor.
Cal Poly kept it going in the second half, outscoring the Bulldogs 17-to-6 in the opening nine minutes of the half, building up a 20-point lead.
“I thought when we weren’t able to really establish our inside early on,” said Terry, “I think our outside guys and our guard play started pressing. And we had some unforced turnovers that really put us in a bind in the first half.”
Cal Poly’s strong defense created problems for Fresno State all night long. The Bulldogs struggled to find open looks, but they even had trouble getting the open shots to fall. Fresno State finished shooting 16% from three-point range, and shot 35% total from the field. The Mustangs are ranked eighth nationally in points against per game.
“Cal Poly’s a really good defensive team,” said Terry. “They’re a team that really understands who they are. They’re an older team. They’re a team that plays great position defense.”
The Bulldogs did not get their usual scoring output from Olekaibe, who is recovering from an ankle injury suffered last Saturday. He finished with seven points, and struggled shooting, hitting just 1-of-9 from behind the arc.
“It took some time away from him this week being with us on the floor,” Terry said about the effect of Olekaibe’s injury. “He had one day to practice with us and I think it showed with his timing a little bit.”
Fresno State falls to 4-7 on the season and has a quick turnaround with games at Boise State on Monday and Arizona State on Wednesday.
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