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Rough Night in Colorado

NCAA Basketball: Fresno State at Air Force Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

The prettiest thing of the night was Sam Bittner’s buzzer beater to put the ‘Dogs up by four.

Besides that, It’s a good thing it was a small crowd, because it wasn’t pretty. But the Fresno State Bulldogs (21-9 11-6 MWC) pulled off the win in Colorado on Monday night against the Air Force Falcons. (11-17, 5-11 MWC) The victory locked up a first round bye in the Mountain West Tournament, slated to begin next Wednesday, March 7.

But if the ‘Dogs want a chance, they’re going to have to change. A lot.

With Jaron Hopkins out for the season, Fresno State shot 34% from the floor (fifteen points down from their season average of 49%) and only managed to sink 7 shots in the first half, with the score at the half being only 23-19. In what was undoubtedly one of the ‘Dogs most lethargic performances, Bryson Williams led all scorers with 15, before fouling out late in the game. Fouls were a problem for the ‘Dogs however, with 20 total, 14 of which coming in the second half.

The loss of Hopkins in the previous defeat against Wyoming is something that the ‘Dogs are going to have to adjust to with only one final game before the start of the tournament next week.

Air Force played only slightly worse, shooting 29% from the floor, with sophomore Caleb Morris leading the Falcons with 12 points. The Falcons turned the ball over 18 times against the ‘Dogs, but drew to within four several times near the end of the game. In the end though, the Falcons couldn’t keep up with the Bulldogs, even though they lacked a key offensive producer in Hopkins.

The win currently puts Fresno State alone in 3rd place in the Mountain West Conference, a game and a half behind Boise State (22-6, 12-4 MWC) and #21 Nevada (25-5, 14-2 MWC) heading into the final week of the season.

Fresno State rounds out the season with a matchup on Saturday against New Mexico (15-14, 10-6 MWC) who gave the ‘Dogs a run for their money in Fresno earlier this year, only to fall to the ‘Dogs 89-80 after a late rally. The Bulldogs are going to have to adjust to the loss of Jaron Hopkins if they hope to pull out the victory and claim 3rd in the conference overall.