GAME NOTES: The Fresno State Bulldogs try to extend their win streak to three in a row on Sunday as they tangle with the Washington State Cougars in non- conference action at Beasley Coliseum.
The Bulldogs, who already have more wins on the road than they do at home, held a third straight opponent under 60 points on Thursday, the fifth foe overall on the season, as they toppled San Diego Christian in an 84-49 final at home. The 84 points for FSU were the most this season and marked only the second time the program has gone over 70 in a game in 2012-13.
As for the Cougars, they've been enigmatic to say the least, losing three straight games at one juncture and then coming back to record wins in three consecutive outings. Most recently the team locked up with instate rival and nationally-ranked Gonzaga on Wednesday at home and suffered a 71-69 setback in the final seconds. With the defeat WSU is now 5-1 at home and just one game overall .500 overall on the campaign.
The Cougars lead the all-time series by a count of 8-3, capturing a 66-55 victory in Fresno in the most recent meeting two seasons ago at the Save mart Center.
The Bulldogs scored the first points of the game against San Diego Christian a few days ago and never looked back, continuing to build upon their lead until they cruised to the 35-point victory. A total of 10 players scored for Fresno State, but none more than Allen Huddleston who tallied 13 points. Jerry Brown came up a rebound shy of a double-double as he logged 12 points, nine boards and four steals, followed by Tyler Johnson and Marvelle Harris with 11 points apiece. FSU dominated in the paint by holding a 38-23 rebounding advantage and outscoring the visitors by a 36-14 margin close to the basket. It also helped that the defense for the Bulldogs forced 27 turnovers, thanks in part to a staggering 18 steals. Because of the defensive effort in the last outing, Fresno State is now averaging eight thefts per game and is forcing foes into more than 15 turnovers per contest. The squad is limiting the competition to only 55.9 ppg which is a huge help since the offense is generating just 62.1 ppg and Huddleston is the lone double-digit scorer at 12.5 ppg.
Up against the 10th-ranked team in the country a few nights go, the Cougars had a chance to come away with the upset win, but the squad couldn't complete the task even as Brock Motum scored a team-best 23 points on 5-of-7 shooting behind the 3-point line. DaVonte Lacy accounted for another 22 points off the bench as he connected on 4-of-9 shots on the perimeter, which means the rest of the team combined to make a mere 1-of-11 on the outside. Washington State didn't do itself any favors by turning the ball over 15 times and shooting only 11-of-18 at the charity stripe. Motum, one of the top performers in the Pac-12 Conference, leads the team in scoring and rebounding with averages of 19.3 points and 6.7 boards per outing. His 12 blocked shots also are tops on the unit through nine games. Lacy has missed four outings, but it is becoming clear that his 11.2 ppg are crucial to the squad's success moving forward since they are producing only 64.7 ppg.
Now that FSU's Kevin Olekaibe is no longer firing up shots from all over the floor, the Bulldogs are playing much better basketball, particularly at the defensive end, and that should keep the visitors in contention on Sunday.
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