As a lifelong Fresno State fan, all I have to say about the game last night is: Everything sucks, life is eternal darkness, never get your hopes up.
If you want to see what happens when a team thinks they can skate by against a team hungry for an upset, just watch the first 35 minutes of the Fresno State/Air Force game. The Dogs looked completely out of sorts from the jump, and the absence of Johnny McWilliams was felt at the guard spot. Hopefully it was just the flu that’s been going around, and nothing more serious. Air Force brought pressure after pressure on the floor, and Fresno State just didn’t look ready for it. Coach Hut and his staff kept trying to get the guys to wake up, but it just looked like a fog.
Caleb Morris and Lavelle Scottie led the day for the Falcons, pitching in 17 and 15 points apiece. On the Fresno State side, Deshon Taylor and Braxton Huggins continued giving every game their absolute all, with Taylor dropping 23 points, and Huggins pitching in for 17. New Williams also got into double digits, with the three combining for 50 of Fresno State’s 61 points. The surprise was that Nate Grimes didn’t get onto the board at all, but he did get 9 rebounds to help get the Dogs back into the game in the 2nd half.
For those that watched the first 35 minutes of the game, they would have seen Air Force in control. They even stretched their lead to 15 points at various points in the 2nd half, but with about 7 minutes to go, the Bulldogs woke up. Two straight 3s, and two makes by Deshon Taylor brought the Dogs within 6, and it looked like they might be able to come all the way back and get the win. In the last minute, they even got the game down to one possession, but it just proved to be too little, too late. The free throw game went both directions for the teams, and got Fresno to 1 point behind the Falcons, but Braxton Huggins’ last second heave bounced off the front iron, and the Falcons walked out of the Save Mart Center winners.
The loss drops the Bulldogs from a tie with Utah State to 1 game behind them, and the Dogs will need to try again to get to that 20th win. Although with Nevada’s loss to SDSU, the Bulldogs remain within shouting distance of 1st place at 1.5 games back. For the Falcons, this win was a big one for their standings. They jumped up to 7th, moving above Colorado State, and half a game behind Boise State. That will be important for conference tournament seeding, since there’s really not a chance for post-season play. If the Bulldogs want to play in the post-season, they can’t afford any more hiccups. They’ll have to win out the rest of the way, and hope to get a win over Nevada to secure a place in the NIT, or the NCAA if they win the conference tournament.
The Dogs will travel to Reno to take on the Wolf Pack February 23rd at 5pm. The game will be on CBS Sports Network. This is a big game for both teams looking to bounce back after upset losses.
The Falcons will return home to take on San Jose State Saturday at 1:00pm. The game will probably be on the Mountain West Network online, although you’d have to check local listings. Air Force is going to try to get to .500 by the end of the year, and SJSU is still trying to find a conference win.