Game Recap: Saint Mary’s 68, Fresno State 58
Fresno State falls to 2-3 in loss to Gaels
Hyder continues to impress
It was another tough loss for Fresno State on Wednesday night in what felt, at times, like a winnable game for the Bulldogs. But Saint Mary’s pulled away late in the second half at the Golden 1 Center in Sacramento, defeating Fresno State, 68-58.
Fresno State continued their struggles to produce offense outside of breakout freshman Jarred Hyder. The first-year guard scored 20 points and only missed two shots, while the rest of the team was 34.1% from the field. Bulldogs big man Nate Grimes finished with eight points, nine rebounds, and a block.
While Fresno State (2-3, 0-0 MWC) was cold from inside the arc, they were effective from deep. The Bulldogs hit nine triples and hit 40% from deep for the first time all season. That shooting is what allowed Justin Hutson’s club to hang with the Gaels throughout the game, but they ultimately fell short.
Saint Mary’s was led by its formidable duo of Jordan Ford and Malik Fitts, with Tanner Krebs and Tommy Kuhse playing a big role in the win, as well. Ford scored a game-high 24 points while playing 40 minutes for head coach Randy Bennett. Fitts and Krebs combined for 27 points and 12 rebounds, while Kuhse filled up the stat sheet with nine points, six assists, and five steals.
The Gaels (4-1, 0-0 WCC) played a tight game overall, shooting over 50% from the field and committing just six turnovers. Their performance in Sacramento could help vault them back into the national polls. Saint Mary’s dropped out of the Top 25 after losing to Winthrop last week.
Fresno State is struggling to find a consistent recipe for success. It seems at this point that Plan A, which was seemingly to have Noah Blackwell and New Williams take on big roles, has backfired calamitously.
Neither guard has been able to find their form in the early going. After Blackwell missed the first two games due to a suspension, New Williams was conspicuously absent from the lineup against Saint Mary’s. Blackwell did play, but scored just three points and saw his field goal percentage drop to 22.7% on the season.
Luckily for the team, the new faces in town—namely Hyder, Orlando Robinson, and Mustapha Lawrence—have been able to pick up some of the slack. But this team is in desperate need of a second scorer behind Hyder. Nate Grimes seems the obvious choice for the role, but he has been unable to establish himself as a truly dominant force so far. Fresno State’s season hinges largely on whether he can become the legitimate second option on offense.
UP NEXT: The Bulldogs don’t play again until November 30, when they head down south to take on Cal State Northridge (0-5, 0-0 Big West). The Matadors have struggled mightily after the late news came down that star forward Lamine Diane was ruled ineligible. That said, CSUN has played a raft of solid teams, including Auburn, New Mexico, Oregon State, Richmond, and Pepperdine.
Andrew is a current USBWA member, covering college basketball for multiple outlets, including Mountain West Wire of the USA TODAY Sports Media Group and Busting Brackets of the FanSided Network. He also runs the Dieckhoff Power Index, a college basketball analytics system, and provides bracketology predictions throughout the season.