Fresno State faced an up-hill battle after a lackluster first half performance.
A 12-to-3 run, led by eight straight points from Garrett Johnson, put Fresno State within four points. Louisiana Tech answered with seven minutes remaining however, when guard Kenneth Smith knocked down a three-pointer that crushed Fresno State’s momentum. The shot sparked a 9-to-0 run to extend La Tech’s lead back to 13 points.
“[Louisiana Tech has] been a hot team and have won four games in a row. We knew we had a confident team coming in,” said Fresno State Head Coach Rodney Terry. “When you let a team shot 63% in the first half, you're not going to win very many games.”
Louisiana Tech jumped out to a 21-8 lead in the first nine minutes, after making 7-of-10 shots from the field, and all five of their three-point attempts. Fresno State struggled offensively, making just four of their first 23 shots, allowing La Tech to expand their lead to as many as 22 points in the first half.
“You can't throw away 20 minutes of a ball game where you don't come out and execute,” Terry said. “You're not going to be in control of making shots every night, but you sure can control your defense and your effort and that was the disappointing part with us tonight.
“Shots weren't falling in and it seemed like we were playing defense just to get back on offense and we can't do that,” said Jonathan Wills. “We aren't going to beat anyone playing like that.”
Wills led Fresno State with 16 points and eight rebounds. Garrett Johnson added 12 points, and Tyler Johnson reached double figures with 10. Point guard Steven Shepp had eight points, seven assists and no turnovers in 39 minutes. Leading scorer Kevin Olekaibe had just one point in the first half, and finished with eight.
An announced crowd of 10,012 witnessed the loss. It was the largest crowd of the season, and largest in three years.
Fresno State plays its final regular season game Saturday versus New Mexico State at 7 p.m. PST.
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