Fresno State led by 16 points at halftime, but saw their lead diminish to as little as five points.
The Bulldogs held a six-point lead with three minutes remaining when Tyler Johnson was fouled hard as he shot. Johnson’s shot got a good bounce and the ball rolled in to spark the Bulldogs and help push the lead back to double-digits.
“They stuck it out for 40 minutes and finished the game,” said Fresno State Head Coach Rodney Terry.
“We were fighting and clawing for a win.”
The ‘Dogs build their large lead in the first half, thanks to 64% shooting and holding the Vandals to just 28%. The three-point shooting threats for Idaho failed to make one shot from beyond the arc on nine attempts in the first 20 minutes. Garrett Johnson’s buzzer beating three-point shot gave the Bulldogs a 36-20 lead, outscoring Idaho 21-to-9 to finish the half.
“Our guys have had two great days of preparation in terms of working hard and getting ready for [Idaho] and it came out tonight,” added Terry.
Both teams lost key players in the opening minutes of the game, when Jonathan Wills and Idaho’s Stephen Madison each drew two fouls in the first three minutes. Fresno State got a boost from Kevin Foster who came in and scored nine first half points in Wills’ place.
“I thought Kevin Foster came in and gave us a great lift once Jonathan [Wills] got in foul trouble,” said Terry. “[Foster] ended up with nine points and eight rebounds which were huge for us.”
Johnson, who tied a career-high 17 points to go with eight rebounds, led Fresno State. Jerry Brown had a double-double, with 14 points and 10 rebounds. Brown disrupted Idaho’s strong frontcourt, getting three blocks and forcing two steals.
“That’s just what I do,” said Brown. “Just trying to play hard defense.”
The win ends an eight-game losing streak versus Idaho and the first win in eight attempts versus Idaho Head Coach Don Verlin.
Fresno State improves to 10-14 and 2-6 in WAC play, and next hosts Utah State on Saturday and 7:00 p.m. PTS.
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