Fresno State came out of the opening tip and featured a perimeter oriented, jump shooting attack, which wasn’t effective as the ‘Dogs were 1-of-8 from the field in the games first five minutes.
“We relied on jump shots early and they were not falling,” said Bulldog head coach Steve Cleveland.
Idaho wasn’t much better during this stretch and the ‘Dogs failed to utilize this opportunity to pound the Vandals inside and jump on them early on their home court.
The Bulldogs recovered from their early shooting woes to keep pace with Idaho and stay in the game in the first half.
The players doing the most damage for their squads in the first half were the Bulldogs’ Mike Ladd, who had 10 at the break, and Idaho senior guard Mac Hopson, who gave the ‘Dogs fits all night with his penetration and passing, with 13 points. “Their guards gave us trouble, especially [Mac] Hopson,” said Cleveland.
After poor clock management, and an early shot in the half’s final possession by the Bulldogs, Idaho took advantage of a fast break opportunity to get a put-back at the half’s buzzer to tie the game at 28.
The Bulldogs opened the second half by pounding the ball inside to senior Sylvester Seay and freshman Greg Smith, getting away from relying on the jump shot from the first half.
A 7-0 run launched the ‘Dogs to a 35-28 lead and forced a quick Idaho timeout. As was the case the entire game, the Vandals fought back and erased the Bulldog lead with a 12-1 run of their own to take the 40-36 lead at the under 16 timeout.
“We came out in the second half with a better purpose and got the ball inside and had a 7-0 run, then we got casual defensively and let them right back in it,” said Cleveland.
From that segment on, it remained a close game. But the Bulldogs were never able to pull even or take the lead in the final 10 minutes following Marvin Jefferson’s layup that gave the Vandals a 48-47 lead.
“Bottom line, we didn’t get stops when we needed them and they made big shots,” said Cleveland.
Idaho never looked back from that point and pulled away from the Dogs to win by nine.
Fresno State travels to Reno to face Nevada on Wednesday at 7 p.m. PT. The game will be televised by BSN.
The Bulldogs had four players in double figure scoring led by Sylvester Seay’s 14 points and 11 rebounds. Mike Ladd chipped in 13 while Greg Smith and Paul George finished with 12 points each. But George struggled in his second game back from his ankle injury going 4-of-14 from the field.
Idaho was led by Mac Hopson’s 20 points and eight assists. Luciano De Souza’s 16 points on 4-of-7 three-point shooting, and Marvin Jefferson had 10 points in just 16 minutes of action.
The bench scoring was dominated by the Vandals, who had 29 of their 68 points from the bench while the Bulldogs only managed six bench points. “Bench points were a huge difference in the game, we rely on our starting five to score our points,” added Cleveland.
Bulldog Senior Forward Sylvester Seay:
“The offensive rebounds mean nothing if you can’t put them back in and capitalize.”
“I know what a guy like PG (Paul George) will do after a loss like this…he will be shooting in the North Gym until 1 a.m.”
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