Fresno State trailed by just three points with 2:41 remaining, when Boise State’s Thomas Bropleh put up a three-pointer as the shot clock expired that scored to extend the Bronco’s lead to six. The Bulldogs could not come back from the dagger shot. Fresno State had one last chance to make a push in the final minute, but Boise State point guard Westly Perryman stole the ball from Kevin Olekaibe, and laid it in to extend the lead to seven points.
“They made big shots when they had to,” said Fresno State Head Coach Rodney Terry. “I thought our guys really tried to defend the shot clock; we played it all the way through. At the end of the day they made a couple big shots at the end of the shot clock.”
Fresno State did not dig themselves in a whole similar to past road games. In fact, the Bulldogs got out to one of their fastest starts of the season, jumping out to an 11-2 lead in the opening five minutes. It wasn’t a lead they would hang onto for long however, as Boise State answered with 11 straight points to retake the lead.
Foul trouble and rebounding plagued the Bulldogs all game long. Jonathan Wills, Jerry Brown, and Kevin Foster all got into foul trouble late in the game, leaving Fresno State with small line-ups. Boise State took full advantage, out-rebounding the Bulldogs 36-22, and grabbing 14 offensive rebounds. 6-foot-9 Boise State center Ryan Watkins dominated the undersized Bulldogs, scoring 18 points and grabbing 11 rebounds, nine of which came on the offensive end.
“[Watkins] was really the huge difference in the game in terms of giving them second chance opportunities,” said Terry.
After suffering an ankle injury versus Oregon, and a poor shooting performance against Cal Poly, Olekaibe gave the ‘Dogs everything he could. He scored 28 points, one shy of his career high. He finished with 10-of-17 shooting from the field after making six of his first seven to start the game. Olekaibe also went 5-of-7 from the free throw line.
“I’m very pleased with the [Olekaibe] bounced back,” Terry said. “I thought Kevin did a great job in letting the game come to him; didn’t really try to force the issue early in the game.”
Tyler Johnson was the only other Bulldog in double figures, scoring a career-high 17 points. Kevin Foster tried to slow down the rebounding dominance of Boise State. Foster had eight rebounds in his 22 minutes, and he dealt with foul trouble, finishing with four fouls.
Fresno State falls to 4-8, and hopes to get their first win as the visiting team at Arizona State on Wednesday, at 3 p.m. PST.
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