Bull­dogs miss a block out, and a big chance, in loss to Mi­ami

Merced Sun-Star (Saturday) - - Sports - BY ROBERT KUWADA [email protected]­nobee.com

For all of about the last frac­tions of a sec­ond, Fresno State dom­i­nated the boards on Fri­day in a matchup against Mi­ami at the Wooden Legacy. Up against a big­ger front line, the Bull­dogs had 43 re­bounds and a plus-15 re­bound­ing ad­van­tage.

But the Hur­ri­canes got the last one and the vic­tory when Zach John­son re­bounded a missed shot and slammed it through the rim to push Mi­ami to a 78-76 vic­tory.

The Bull­dogs didn’t get a body on the 6-foot-2 John­son, who sec­onds ear­lier had fouled Deshon Tay­lor at the 3-point line with Mi­ami up three.

“I thought Chris (Lykes) had a great look,” John­son said. “There was about six or eight sec­onds left and I knew that our best chance to win, if he missed it, was to get on the of­fen­sive board. I took off, the ball just bounced my way and I put it back in.”

Fresno State (2-2) had tied the score on three free throws with 13 sec­onds to go by Tay­lor, who along with Brax­ton Hug­gins played the Bull­dogs through 20 turnovers, a ton of foul trou­ble and some dread­ful shoot­ing at the start and end of the sec­ond half.

“There were ups and downs but if we had a lit­tle less turnovers it would have helped us — 20 turnovers are not go­ing to beat a team like that,” coach Justin Hut­son said.

Bull­dogs also were 0 of 9 to start that sec­ond half, and 1 of 10 to fin­ish.

“I def­i­nitely did (think we were go­ing to over­time),” Hug­gins said. “(But) that pos­ses­sion wasn’t the one that made us lose the game. Like coach said, through­out the game we had silly turnovers, we had our pickand-roll is­sues and our de­fense wasn’t that good. We have to get back and work on that, watch some film. But the last cou­ple of pos­ses­sions weren’t the ones that made us lose the game.”

Hug­gins, who picked up a fourth foul with 12:21 to go and fouled out with 34

sec­onds re­main­ing, hit 10 of 21 shots in scor­ing a ca­reer-high 28 points. Tay­lor, who had a fourth foul with 12:36 re­main­ing, hit 8 of 14 shots in scor­ing 25 points.

The Bull­dogs were there — it was a two-pos­ses­sion game through the sec­ond half, the largest lead by Mi­ami at 47-41 with 16:43 to play.

Fresno State com­ing into the sea­son had won just three of its past 23 games against teams from Power Five con­fer­ences — and made it three of 24 with a Nov. 15 loss at TCU. But the Bull­dogs beat North­west­ern on Thurs­day in the quar­ter­fi­nals of the Wooden Legacy, played at Ti­tan Gym on the cam­pus of Cal State Fuller­ton, and had a chance down the stretch against the 5-0 Hur­ri­canes. In the game, the score was tied 12 times and there were 11 lead changes.

“In the sec­ond half, I thought we played re­ally well and it was a great con­test,” Mi­ami coach Jim Lar­ranaga said. “They (Fresno State) are very good and I thought we played re­ally well. It came down to one pos­ses­sion and one missed shot that turned into an of­fen­sive re­bound dunk. Zach had him­self a great game and de­serves a lot of credit for help­ing us win this.”

The Bull­dogs will con­clude the Wooden Legacy at 1 p.m. Sun­day against the loser of Fri­day’s late game between Hawaii and Se­ton Hall.

KYUSUNG GONG AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Mi­ami guard Zach John­son cel­e­brates his win­ning dunk in the Hur­ri­canes’ 78-76 vic­tory over Fresno State.

KYUSUNG GONG AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Fresno State guard Brax­ton Hug­gins, right, draws con­tact from Mi­ami for­ward Sam Waar­den­burg on his way to the bas­ket in the Bull­dogs’ 78-76 loss to the Mi­ami Hur­ri­canes at the Wooden Legacy tour­na­ment on Fri­day.

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