Olekaibe's Career Night Leads 'Dogs
With 38 seconds remaining, Fresno State inbounded the ball down by one point. Just five seconds into the possession, Kevin Olekaibe got the ball and shot a deep three that swished in to give the Bulldogs the lead.
The ‘Dogs defense held strong and got a stop. However, Arizona State had one last chance after the Bulldogs’ best free throw shooter, Jonathan Wills, made one of two free throws. A rushed shot by Sun Devil Kyle Cain fell short, and Fresno State’s Garrett Johnson got the rebound as the buzzer sounded to finish the win for the Bulldogs.
Olekaibe’s three-pointer in the final minute would turn to be the game winning shot and cap a career night for the sophomore guard. Olekaibe played all 40 minutes of the game, never missing a beat. Olekaibe scored a career-high 30 points, making 11-of-19 shots, and shooting 6-of-10 from three-point range. His seven straight points led the Bulldogs down the stretch.
“It felt great,” Olekaibe said.
“Putting my team up and just getting the lead. I like the adrenalin rush. I like being in these moments. You can’t be scared to take the last shot.”
Fresno State dug itself in a hole early, but it was a familiar situation. Arizona State led 25-10 after the first 11 minutes, and even held a 17-point lead with under two minutes remaining in the first half. Tyler Johnson’s back-to-back jumpers in the final minute helped the Bulldogs cut the lead to 12 at halftime.
“It was a tale of two halves,” said Fresno State Head Coach Rodney Terry. “We felt like we had a great offensive package to start the game, we just didn’t execute initially.”
Trailing 44-34 with 15 minutes remaining, an Olekaibe three-pointer sparked a 10-0 run, capped off by Jerry Brown’s three-point play on a lay-up while being fouled. With just under 10 minutes remaining, the Bulldogs got their first lead since the opening minutes of the game, and Olekaibe and Wills made back-to-back threes to push their lead to seven points.
The lead slipped away in the final minutes, but Olekaibe’s seven consecutive points put Fresno State on top in the end.
“Coach Terry got on us during halftime.” Olekaibe said. “We just came out with another sense of urgency. We played as a team and we started attacking and we started finishing plays too.”
The game was typical of Fresno State’s previous road games, but Wednesday the Bulldogs were able to get over the hump and complete the comeback win. FS finishes with a 2-3 record in their five games versus Pac-12 competition.
“We’ve been so close,” said Terry.
“Today they ceased the moment and got it done. I think it’s huge to have momentum going into your break.”
The ‘Dogs now gets a break before playing at Pacific, next Thursday, December 29.
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