Fresno State had to hold their lead in the second half without the help of Kevin Olekaibe who left the game due to injury. Pacific got within five points when Travis Fulton’s jump shot made it 40-35 with less than seven minutes left. However, the Bulldogs answered quickly on Larry MacGaughey’s three-pointer and Tyler Johnson’s tip in to get the lead right back to double digits.
FS grabbed their first lead just four minutes into the game, and never trailed again. Both teams struggled to score, resulting in a low-scoring 22-16 halftime score. The Bulldogs played one of their best games defensively of the season. Fresno State tied a season best in holding their opponent to 47 points and had 10 blocks.
“On the defensive end we did a really really good job,” said Fresno State Head Coach Rodney Terry. “Towards the end of the game… we totally took them out of their offense.
“I think our rotation was really good in terms of being in position to make those types of plays. We want to contest all shots; we work hard on contesting shots.”
Jonathan Wills lead all scorers with 12 points. All 12 came in the second half, after foul trouble landed him on the bench for most of the first half. Sophomore guard Tyler Johnson had a double-double, scoring 10 points and grabbing 10 rebounds.
“Tyler’s an athletic guy,” said Terry. “We’re giving him an opportunity right now to really play to his strengths in terms of being an athletic guy on both ends of the floor. He’s a really, really good rebounder.
“A lot of people don’t think about blocking out guards when they go to the boards,” said Johnson, “So I like to take advantage of that.”
Leading scorer Kevin Olekaibe was hurt early in the second half. Olekaibe finished with nine points on 4-of-11 shooting. Coach Terry expects him to return for Monday’s game versus Boise State.
“Everybody had a responsibility to pick up the slack,” Johnson said, “And I feel like we did a good job.”
After losing their first five road games, the Bulldogs have now put together back-to-back wins against Arizona State and Pacific. Fresno State will hope to keep the momentum going, as they open WAC play with games at Utah State and at Idaho.
“I don’t think we’ve ever had a moment where we weren’t believing in each other,” said Johnson. “But we’ve finally started to put everything together and it’s paid off two road wins.”
Fresno State improves to 6-8 overall. Before starting WAC play, the Bulldogs host Boise State on Monday, January 2 at 7 p.m. PST.
Discuss in BarkBoard.com Forums.
If you have not by now, subscribe to BarkBoard.com. Click HERE to get access to the members-only content from BB.C and the nation-wide Scout.com network.
©Copyright 2011, BarkBoard.com and Scout.com. All rights reserved.