In the second half, Tech was all business and put away the visitors from the Mountain West conference decisively.
The keys to Tech’s second half success were an improved defense—which featured some zone mixed in with the man—the Red Raiders’ ability to carve up the Bulldogs’ ill-coordinated full court pressure, and Tech’s success in getting to the rack where they connected at a very high clip. The Red Raiders shot 56-percent from the field in the second half and attempted only two 3-pointers. Conversely, they scored eight points on the fast break and 11 points off of turnovers. Toddrick Gotcher’s eight second-half points were also a huge bonus.
Tech, for a change, came out with both guns blazing offensively. Norense Odiase established himself early, scoring the Red Raiders’ first two buckets, the second a nice turn-around baseline jumper. With 16:37 to play in the opening half, Tech had connected on six of seven shots and led 14-7.
Devaughntah Williams extended the bulge to 17-9 on a 3-ball with 14:19 to play, and in came the subs. And over the next 2:11 Fresno State would whittle the Tech lead to 17-14, culminating with two free throws by Marvelle Harris.
The starters reentered the fray and dutifully forged a seven-point advantage on a Williams dunk with 9:03 remaining in the half. Odiase, however, committed his second foul at the 10:43 mark and didn’t see the floor for the remainder of the half. His absence removed Tech’s inside scoring presence and allowed FS to extend the defense on the Red Raider guards.
Even without Odiase, however, Tech continued to build their edge. On an Alex Foster free throw with 4:08 left, the Red Raiders owned the scoreboard 27-18.
Those final four minutes, however, belonged entirely to the Bulldogs. Terrell Carter, taking advantage of Odiase’s foul trouble, scored six points toward the end of the half, and Marvelle Harris added five more as Fresno State reduced the gap to three points at the break.
With few exceptions, however, the Red Raiders thoroughly dominated the second half.
Fresno State, which never led in the game, scored the opening points of the half on a Harris jumper, but then Tech hit overdrive. From the 17:19 mark to 11:08 showing on the clock, the Red Raiders allowed the Bulldogs to score only one point. Tech, meanwhile, got 13 points from six different players, and when the dust cleared, owned a 47-34 lead.
The Bulldogs would not challenge again as the Red Raiders’ lead ballooned all the way to 20 points on a Williams layup with 6:14 to play. An Edo Karachi dunk pulled FS to within 14 points at the 2:22 mark, but the ship had long since sailed by that point.
Williams led Tech in scoring with 17 points, while Justin Gray had his best game as a Red Raider, scoring 16 points on four-of-six shooting, grabbing four rebounds and handing out a pair of assists. But Gotcher was Tech’s MVP, connecting on all four of his field goal attempts, scoring 13 points, pulling down five boards and dishing out a couple of assists.
Tech hit 86 percent of their free throw attempts and outrebounded a decent rebounding opponent by six. Uncharacteristically, the Red Raiders blocked only one shot; they entered the game averaging six blocks per game.
Tech is next in action against Prairie View A&M in a Sunday afternoon tilt in United Supermarkets Arena.