LAS VEGAS, Nev. - The Fresno State men's basketball team saw its season come to an end Wednesday at the 2013 Reese's Mountain West Basketball Championships with a hard-fought 67-61 loss to Colorado State in the quarterfinals at the Thomas & Mack Center.
Fresno State, the No. 7 seed, ends the year with an 11-19 record. No. 2 seed CSU improved to 25-7 overall and advances to face UNLV Friday night in the semifinals.
"We knew coming into this game it was going to be a hard fought contest," head coach Rodney Terry said. "I thought our guys really competed at a very high level. We left it all out on the floor."
There were 12 lead changes and eight ties in what was a very tight game most of the way. CSU pulled out to a nine-point lead with 6:03 to play before the Bulldogs came
back to make it a two-point game with two minutes to go.
Colorado State, who was 25-of-37 from the free-throw line in the game, hit 4-of-6 at the line down the stretch and got a crucial 3-pointer from Wes Eikmeier with a minute to go to hold off the Fresno State comeback.
Eikmeier had a game-high 18 points to lead the Rams and he was 9-of-10 at the charity stripe.
"Well, if you look at it as a whole, I think free throws were the biggest part of the game for us," Terry said after watching his team go 13-of-23 at the line. "We shot 56 percent from the line. We've been pretty consistent. We've made those over the last three ball games. It's given us great momentum in terms of opportunities to win ballgames."
Tyler Johnson led Fresno State with 14-points on 6-of-12 shooting. Jerry Brown matched his season-high with 12 points off the bench and Marvelle Harris also chipped in 12 big points.
The Bulldogs held an early 16-15 lead 10 minutes in after a jumper in the lane from Brown. Brown scored six of the last nine points for the 'Dogs in the stretch he capped off with that jumper.
Greg Smith was carrying CSU early on. He had nine of CSU's first 16 points before the Rams went on a 6-0 run to lead 22-19.
The Bulldogs countered that though with 3-pointers from Allen Huddleston and Kevin Foster and finished the half on a 10-4 run to lead 29-26 at the break. CSU only had one field goal in the last five minutes of the opening half and shot just 34.6 percent in the first 20 minutes.
Johnson, after going 1-for-5 in the first half, hit his first three shots out of the break and scored the first seven points for the 'Dogs.
The Bulldogs were whistled for eight team fouls in the first eight minutes of the second half, setting up 11 CSU free-throw attempts. The Rams hit nine of those and after a pair by Colton Iverson, Colorado State led 43-39 with 11:48 to play.
Back-to-back 3-pointers from Ram guard Daniel Bejarano put CSU on-top 49-42, which up to that point had been the largest lead of the game. The treys started a 12-4 run that gave CSU a 55-46 lead with 6:04 remaining.
Harris kept the Bulldogs in the game, scoring eight-straight points, albeit over a four-and-a-half minute stretch. Then a high floater form Johnson in the lane at 2:41 cut the Ram lead down to 55-53.
It was a three-point Ram lead until Eikmeier hit a 3-pointer from the wing with a minute remaining and that put the dagger in Fresno State's comeback attempt. Courtesy: Fresno St. Athletics
Winona Lake, Ind. - John Taylor became the first player in Fresno Pacific history to score 50 points in a game, leading the top-seeded Sunbirds past #8 Roberts Wesleyan 113-101 in the first round of the NCCAA Tournament.
The 50 points broke a 44-year FPU school record, a Pacific West Conference record, and was the highest point total this season by any player at the NCAA Division II level.
Taylor was in top-form from the opening tip, scoring 31 points in the first half as FPU built a 59-48 halftime lead. The Sunbirds would need all the scoring they could get however as RWC came out firing in the second half, eventually taking the lead 91-90 with 4:30 left.
Taylor, Malcolm Griffin and the rest of the Sunbirds refused to back down though in the closing minutes, salvaging a win and avoiding what would have been a monumental upset by the 8-20 Redhawks.
It was a very efficient shooting night for Taylor, who finished 16-for-23 from the field, 14-for-18 from the line and 4-for-8 from three-point range.
Griffin narrowly missed a triple-double, finishing with 17 points, nine rebounds and nine assists. Five Sunbirds finished in double figures as Matt Samuels added 14 points, Rickey Vick finished with 12 and Antonio Credit had 10. Trevon Clayton added eight points and eight rebounds.
Mike Stone had 31 points to lead the Redhawks. Tyrel Dixon added 28 and Devin Grimes finished with 22 points and 11 rebounds.
FPU shot 54 percent from the field, but the difference came at the free-throw line in a game that featured 75 free throws between the two teams. FPU shot 81 percent from the charity stripe while RWC hit just 52 percent.
The Sunbirds have a much tougher task ahead as they take on #5-seed Shorter (GA) at 3:30 pm tomorrow (12:30 PST). The Hawks (19-11) defeated #4-seed MidAmerica Christian 101-89 today and like the Sunbirds are transitioning to NCAA Division II from the NAIA. The team made the NAIA Final Four last season.
The previous FPU school record was 46 points, set by Don Jones vs. Vanguard in 1969. The previous PacWest record was set by Taylor earlier this season with 44 points vs. Academy of Art. The previous high by this season by an NCAA Division II player was 47 points by Joe Graessle of Tiffin University.
Courtesy: FPU Athletics