With 56 seconds remaining, the Bulldogs took possession down by two points. Fresno State point guard Jaron Hopkins quickly turned that two point deficit into a two point lead.
First, Hopkins drove to the lane and scored on a lay-up over one of the Mountain West’s most feared big-men Cameron Oliver. Then, before Nevada could even set up its offense on the opposite end, Hopkins was able to break up a Wolf Pack pass and score on a contested dunk on the fast break.
The Bulldogs made another defensive stop, but that didn’t keep Nevada out of the game. Two Paul Williams free throws gave the Bulldogs a 77-73 advantage, but Nevada guard Marcus Marshall drove full court and made his fifth 3-pointer of the game with six seconds left.
Fresno State forward Cullen Russo missed two free throws to give Nevada a chance to win, but Marshall’s last second heave missed off the backboard.
(This series of events can be viewed in the video above)
“I’ve been here four years and we’ve been going knuckle to knuckle with them,” Fresno State forward Karachi Edo said. “It is every time Nevada and Fresno State.”
Edo scored 11 points and 11 rebounds in his first game in the Save Mart Center this season.
Hopkins, Paul Watson and Jahmel Taylor all tied as the team’s leading scorers - they all scored 14 points. Hopkins added seven rebounds and four assists. Bryson Williams was the team’s top contributor off the bench with 12 points and 8 rebounds. Russo did not play in the first half due to a team discipline, but played 15 minutes in the second half. He had 2 points, 3 rebounds, 3 assists and 3 steals.
Nevada was led by Marcus Marshall who had 26 points. D.J. Fenner added 18 points and star forward Cameron Oliver had 11 points and 7 rebounds despite being limited to 22 minute due to constant foul trouble.
After a back-and-forth first half that left the Bulldogs with a narrow 33-32 lead, Nevada was the first team to find separation. The Wolf Pack made eight of their first 13 3-point attempts in the second half as they extended their lead to as many as 10 points.
Four different Bulldogs combined for 10 unanswered points to retake the lead with six minutes left. It was the team’s first lead in over 12 minutes.
Said Fresno State Head Coach Rodney Terry, “It’s a 40 minute game and there were stretches of that game where our team and staff both had to hit the reset button. We were staring at nine minutes left in the game and we weren’t panicking… We had to put together some stops and then find a way on the other end to score the basketball and we did that.”
Fresno State also survived another poor performance at the free throw line. The ‘Dogs made only 13 of 27 attempts. Nevada made 11 of 13 free throws. Despite those results, Fresno State’s inside game ultimately gave them the advantage. Fresno State outscored Nevada 50-16 in the paint - the Wolf Pack scored only two points in the paint in the second half.
Fresno State improves to 9-5 on the season and 1-1 in Mountain West play. The Bulldogs return for another home contest on Wednesday, hosting the Wyoming Cowboys (11-4, 1-1) at 7 p.m. PT.