GAME NOTES: The Fresno State Bulldogs shoot for rare back-to-back wins tonight, as they challenge the Air Force Falcons in Mountain West Conference action at Clune Arena.
The Bulldogs have struggled during conference play, winning just two decisions, the latest of those coming last week in a 67-62 final versus Wyoming. The victory came on the heals of consecutive overtime defeats and snapped a five-game slide overall. It has been more than two months since FSU managed to post consecutive wins and back in late November/early December the team needed overtime to take down both Cal State Bakersfield and Northern Arizona.
As for the Falcons, they too have had a hard time dialing up MWC wins after playing rather well during the non-conference portion of the schedule. Over the weekend the team went to overtime before bowing to Nevada in Reno, 69-56. The loss was the fourth in a row and the sixth in seven games for the Academy.
The Bulldogs posted a 71-65 win in the first meeting of the season last month at the Save Mart Center as Tyler Johnson scored 25 points and pulled down eight rebounds for the hosts. The Falcons were paced by Tre' Coggins and Max Yon with 21 and 20 points, respectively. With the victory, FSU now leads the all-time series by a count of 11-5.
Fresno State shot only 14-of-21 at the free-throw line and 5-of-17 beyond the arc the last time out, but still played well enough to slip away with the five-point win against Wyoming. Tyler Johnson led the way on offense with 20 points, adding eight rebounds and four assists, all of which were team highs for the Bulldogs. Marvelle Harris chimed in with 11 points as the squad minimized mistakes with a mere seven turnovers on the night.
The leading scorer in seven of the last eight games for the Bulldogs, Johnson is responsible for 15.7 ppg and is also first on the glass with 7.2 rpg as he tries to be an enforcer in the paint. Harris (14.7 ppg) is also capable of muscling his way around the glass for another 5.2 rpg, while Cezar Guerrero (13.6 ppg) supplements his scoring with a team-best 91 assists over the course of 22 starts.
Unfortunately for the Falcons, the future is not nearly as bright as it was when the season first began and part of that is due to the fact that leading scorer, Coggins (17.4 ppg) has been suspended. Without Coggins the Falcons came up short against Nevada on Saturday, making just one field goal in overtime of the double-digit setback. Yon and Marek Olesinski both tallied 10 points and five rebounds, but also combined to shoot just 11-of-32 from the floor and 5-of-18 beyond the arc. Before fouling out, Justin Hammonds responded with 10 points and eight rebounds.
Entering this week the active leading scorer for the Falcons is Yon with his 13.9 ppg, adding a team-best 61 assists as well in an effort to get his teammates involved in the action. Olesinski (12.7 ppg) and Kamryn Williams (10.3 ppg) are two of the better options on the glass for Air Force as they combine for 12.2 rpg and then when you throw in Hammonds (9.2 ppg) with another 5.8 rpg, it makes sense that the Academy is actually beating opponents in rebounding on the average for the time being.
With Coggins being out of the picture, things become that much harder for the Falcons are they tried to regain their composure from earlier on in the season. Even though Air Force is at home tonight, there are very few guarantees anymore for the Academy.
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