Fresno State outscored Wyoming by 24 points in a run that spanned nearly 26 minutes to build a 41-21 lead that prove too much for the Cowboys to overcome. The Pokes scored just 16 first half points en route to just their second loss this season giving the Bulldogs their first ever MWC win.
“This win is a byproduct of what we do every single day,” said head coach Rodney Terry.
And the ‘Dogs did it with a much smaller rotation as heralded true freshman Robert Upshaw and senior Garrett Johnson didn’t log any minutes for the first time this season.
“Guys got to continue to grow up in our program,” said Terry. “We shortened our bench based on some guys’ maturity issues. Conference play, you got to bring it every day for these types of challenges.”
In Upshaw’s place, Tanner Giddings played 23 minutes scoring a career-high 10 points. He played more minutes than starter Kevin Foster (18 minutes) but well short of Jerry Brown’s workmanlike 40 minutes.
“I thought Tanner Giddings grew up tonight and grew up in our last ball game where he had to play significant minutes against older guys,” added Terry. “He’s getting better and better that always follows the scouting report.
“Jerry Brown did a great a job for us likewise in the same capacity.”
Wyoming’s Leonard Washington came in averaging nearly 15 points and nine rebounds a game. Fresno State held him to just six points on 3-of-10 shooting. He did haul in 10 boards but the Bulldogs out-rebounded the Pokes 33-29 in the contest.
“We knew going into this game we were going to be playing against one of the better players in the Mountain West Conference,” said Terry. “Leonard Washington has had a great year to this point. We knew we had to go after him. Jerry did a great job in the first half attacking him.
“We really need to make their guys have to defend on the other end. To be honest with you, we needed to get into their bench. They have a short rotation right now, and we needed to wear those guys down.”
Wyoming was playing their fourth game without their second leading scorer Luke Martinez, who’s suspended indefinitely from the team.
FS on the other hand welcomed back Tyler Johnson, who missed the last two games with an ankle injury.
“Tyler has been playing extremely well…when he got injured it was a major blow to us,” said Terry. “He came back into it tonight and didn’t miss a beat.”
Johnson led the Bulldogs with a game-high 18 points. He was 6-of-8 from the field and a perfect 6-of-6 from the free throw line. The ‘Dogs shot 51.5% from the field a major upgrade from their sub 40% season average. FS also hit 15-of-21 free throws. The Pokes didn’t fare as well, shooting a season low 24% from the field (12-50) and just 35% from the charity stripe (7-20).
“I was really pleased with our guys, we got a great teaching in the [New Mexico] game,” said Terry. “We got back and got a chance to do a great film session to teach from.”
Wyoming made three of its first four 3-pt shots of the game to lead 9-5 before the wheels came off missing its next 16 attempts. Fresno State used a stingy defense and shot an uncharacteristic 64.7% from the floor to lead by 10 at halftime.
Terry used the combination of Brown and Giddings at the post for the last 14 minutes of the first half. And the combo produced scoring a combined 14 points.
Giddings, who didn’t play against No. 15 San Diego State last week, scored eight of the Bulldogs 26 first half points.
Fresno State will look to improve to .500 in MWC play hosting Nevada on Saturday. Tip off is set for 7 p.m. PT.
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