With under five seconds remaining in regulation, the Bulldogs held a three point lead and were in prime position to knock off Boise State, the Mountain West’s top team.
But a defensive miscommunication let Boise State guard Marcus Shaver get wide open and sink the game-tying shot with just one second to go, sending the game to overtime.
After the 68-63 loss to the Broncos, Fresno State Head Coach Justin Hutson said game plan on defense at the end of regulation was to play tightly man-to-man, switch assignments if Boise State ran a screen and foul if the Broncos were not in shooting motion.
But the chance to foul and send the Broncos to the free-throw line with only two shots never came.
“We never got there,” Hutson said. “The guy curled around, there was some type of miscommunication that was going on over there. They set a flareback screen, and he ends up wide open. And now we’re in a scramble mode. We have to do better than that, and we will. But it’s a painful lesson to learn.”
The Broncos promptly jumped out to an 8-0 run to start the extra period, which grew extra painful for the ‘Dogs as star forward Orlando Robinson fouled out with 3:14 left on the clock.
While it looked like the Broncos were poised to run away with the game, Fresno State went on an 8-0 run of its own, largely on the back of guard Jordan Campbell and his tenacious play to score 5 points during that run and his effort on the offensive glass and defense.
That ability to battle back proved to Hutson that the Bulldogs are capable of surviving without Robsinson on the court – who scored a game-high 21 points.
“I was proud of the guys, how they regrouped and came back in,” Hutson said. “When it was winning time we just couldn’t finish.”
A large part of Fresno State’s struggles in overtime were self-inflicted. The Bulldogs
Boise State’s quick passing ball movement was too much for the ‘Dogs to handle at the end of overtime, just as it was throughout the whole game.
The Bulldogs had two consecutive possessions end in offensive fouls and committed 5 fouls in total during overtime.
And just as Boise State excelled from the three-point line – hitting 14-31 attempts – the Bulldogs performed far worse.
Fresno State only went 5-17 from beyond the arc, an issue Hutson blamed on poor ball movement for most of the game.
“We didn’t make enough extra passes on our part, and then credit Boise State, they’re a very good three-point defensive shooting team,” Hutson said. “They run you off, so you’ve got to make the extra one, drive and kick, make the extra one. And I thought we didn’t make the extra passes enough early. We did late. That’s how we got the lead. And credit to Boise State, they’re long out there contesting those shots.”
Fresno State squandered an opportunity to make a statement win in the Mountain West. Boise State came into the Save Mart Center on a 13-game win streak and an undefeated record in conference play.
With the loss, the Bulldogs dropped to 4-3 in the Mountain West and 14-6 overall, making it more likely that any hopes for a bid in the NCAA Tournament come March will require the ‘Dogs to win the Mountain West Tournament to earn the conference’s automatic spot.
Fresno State goes on the road to play San Jose State (7-12) on Tuesday.
Photo: Fresno State Athletics