Faced with an opportunity to knock off the Mountain West’s second-best team, Fresno State competed, nearly pulling off the upset, but fell short 61-59 against Wyoming at the Save Mart Center.
A troubling point all game in Fresno State’s Sunday evening loss was Wyoming’s consistent ability to pull down rebounds and keep possession away from the ‘Dogs.
Wyoming led the rebounding effort by a 46-28 margin over the Bulldogs and hounded the offensive glass for 14 rebounds on that end.
As Fresno State head coach Justin Hutson noted after the game, the Bulldogs’ deficiency on the glass was unusual. Even after the poor performance in that department, Fresno State gives up less rebounds per game than any other team in the conference.
“Stats don’t always show, but I think 14 offensive rebounds is tough. You can’t give them more of a crack at it, especially coming from we’re the No. 1 rebounding team in the conference, as far as defense. Gave them too many cracks at it. I thought they made some tough shots inside through our double teams on offensive rebounds, and I thought we missed some chippies inside that we normally don’t miss,” Hutson said.
“But give them credit to that, they’re long. They’re long, they’re putting their hands up also. Hard fought game, we came up short.”
The Cowboys took advantage of their excellent rebounding to snag 12 second-chance points. Fresno State only came away with four such points.
While the Bulldogs prevented Wyoming from finding any rhythm from deep – holding the Cowboys to 6-25 from three-point range – the ‘Dogs never got anything going from that range themselves, making only four of 20 attempts.
Three of those three-pointers came from point guard Isaiah Hill, who was the best player on the floor with a game-high 25 points.
While Hill had been solid all game, he excelled in the final minutes as he made back-to-back threes to keep the ‘Dogs in the game.
Hill’s performance was much-needed for the Bulldogs since star forward Orlando Robinson never found any consistency on the court in what turned out to be an off night.
Robinson only put up 11 points in an inefficient 4-17 shooting performance from the field. While he grabbed 10 rebounds, he never hit from deep and only shot 3-6 from the free-throw line.
Robinson also missed a three-pointer with 37 seconds left in the game, which would have tied the game at 55 apiece.
Instead, the Cowboys took advantage of Robinson’s miss to draw fouls and close out the game at the free-throw line over the last half-minute of play.
Part of Robinson’s struggles, Hutson said, were due to the beating he has taken over the last few weeks, notably to his right ankle.
“I thought he pressed a little bit. He was hobbled a tad bit, but he was ready to play…” Hutson said. “Hats off to them as a team defense. They did a great job. Orlando’s not going to have many nights like that.”
Sunday’s loss snapped a two-game winning streak. After the heartbreaking home loss to Boise State two Fridays ago, the Bulldogs beat San Jose State by 30 points on the road and returned to the Save Mart Center last Friday to defeat Nevada 73-56.
The Bulldogs dropped to 16-17 with the loss, including 6-4 in conference play with one month left to play before the conference tournament.
Fresno State travels to Colorado State on Friday before returning home to face UNLV next Wednesday.
Photo: Fresno State Athletics