After enduring a heartbreaking loss to Utah State, and a track meet loss to Nevada, Fresno State needed a bounce back game if they want to stay competitive in the conference race, and bounce back they did. Fresno State led from the tip, and beat Wyoming 80-62 on Saturday for their largest MoV ever in a conference road game. Wyoming came in as a 1.5 point favorite, as Laramie’s AA is a very tough place to win. The Cowyboys were 9-2 at home coming into the game today, while the Bulldogs were 4-3 on the road. Nate Grimes has continued to be a revelation for the Bulldogs in conference play, along with strong showings from Deshon Taylor and Jaron Hopkins. Grimes had his second double-double in conference play, leading the Dogs with 20 points and 12 rebounds off the bench.
Bench play would end up being the biggest key of the game today. Fresno State outscored the Cowboys 27-10 off the bench, including a 16-3 margin in rebounding from the bench players. This is of course skewed by Nate Grimes coming off the bench in the game, but Wyoming’s bench players just couldn’t hit shots. The Cowboys will definitely need better bench production if they’re going to want to win games again strong offenses. Wyoming was led again by Hayden Dalton, making a strong case for first team all conference, as he finished the day with 20 points and 11 rebounds.
The first half was made up of multiple spurts and stops in scoring, since neither team could quite get into a rhythm. The Dogs would jump out to an early 12-7 lead 5 minutes in, and then the score didn’t change for almost 4 minutes of game time. The problem for the Cowboys in the first half was getting shots to fall. They were able to hold the Dogs in check for long periods of time, but they wouldn’t get anything on their own end to close the gap. Then the Dogs would score another flurry of points, and the Cowboys would have more ground to make up. In the first half, the closest that they got outside of the tip was 5 points, with the biggest margin being 16 right at the half.
The second half would follow in much of the same fashion, although Wyoming had a brief glimmer of hope early on in the half. Fresno State committed a rash of fouls and turnovers, but Wyoming couldn’t turn any of those mistakes into points for themselves. It came to the point that not even Hayden Dalton could pull them closer, and the Dogs were able to salt the game away, never allowing Wyoming closer than 14 points. It was definitely a half of playing from behind at all times, but the strong offense from Fresno State kept them at arm’s length all day.
Fresno State led today in almost every category, except for assists and free throws. Wyoming shot a combined 35.2% today, while the Bulldogs shot 48% on the day. The Dogs definitely helped themselves with 10 steals compared to Wyo’s 3, but the Cowboys outscored the Bulldogs on turnovers in the game. So, bit of a wash on that stat. The biggest stat to pay attention to in the game is on the boards, where the Bulldogs maintained a strong lead on both ends of 37-28. Defensive rebounding was strong on both ends, but the Bulldogs had a better day turning those defensive rebounds into points at the other end, which is a key for any team looking for a win.
Wyoming stays in 3 rd in the conference with a 6-4 record, while the Bulldogs move up to 6 th at 6-5. The Cowboys will return to the floor on Wednesday the 7th against USU, while the Bulldogs will return home to take on SDSU on Tuesday the 6th .