Fresno State traveled to sin city on Wednesday night, to play in one of the toughest venues in the Mountain West. The Thomas and Mack Center, home to UNLV hasn't been kind to the Bulldogs, managing only one win ever in Las Vegas heading into this game. That changed as the Bulldogs won 69-66.
The Bulldogs came in with a 1-16 all time record, that one win was also coached by Rodney Terry. If that wasn't enough, the preseason player of the year Marvelle Harris was not only battling the tough ‘Running Rebels' defense, but battling the flu. Harris missed team shootaround to rest and stay hydrated. Harris started off slow, but gutted out another strong performance finishing 7-15 for 22 points, and two rebounds.
Harris teammates and Junior College transfers in Torren Jones and Cullen Russo played a key role in helping Fresno State improve to 2-17 all time in Las Vegas. Jones had a key put back on a missed free throw attempt by Russo, with 20 seconds remaining in regulation. Russo had a key block as time was expiring, to preserve the win. Russo had another strong game, playing great defense.
Russo went 3-4 for 7 points, two rebounds, one block, and three steals. Jones went 6-9 for 18 points, eight rebounds, one block, and two steals. "This was a great team win," Fresno State head coach Rodney Terry said. "I said to our guys that we won this game with our last two days of preparation. Our practices have been as good as they've been all year. We've played so hard in practice that our energy and communication carried over to the game."
UNLV had it going on from downtown. It seemed for every run the Bulldogs made, the Rebels answered with the three ball, making 8 from beyond the arc. The two teams were going back and forth the whole game, and for the most part Fresno State seemed to be playing the better of the two. If it weren't for the UNLV bench, this game could've been one sided contributing with 39 points.
UNLV'S Patrick McCaw was non existent. McCaw was in early foul trouble, and just couldn't get going. McCaw finished 1-3 for 2 points. UNLV freshman duo of Stephen Zimmerman and Jalen Poyser had a solid performance, and was one of the reasons this game was so close. Poyser hit a couple of big shots down the stretch, and Zimmerman is getting better and better, after being slowed with injuries. Poyser went 3-4 for 11 points, and four rebounds. Zimmerman finished going 2-6 for 10 points, 10 rebounds, and two blocks.
The officials called an extremely tight game, calling 51 combined personal fouls, really killing any momentum any team had. There was a point late in the game where Fresno State had seven players with four fouls. Fresno State looks to build off one of its best wins in quite some time, as the ‘Dogs play host to New Mexico, in an early battle for first place. UNLV travels to Fort Collins, Colorado to take on Colorado State.