Dogs Rope Aggies in Overtime
Feb. 4, 2011
FRESNO, Calif. - Garrett Johnson scored six of Fresno State's 14 overtime points, including two free throws with 10.8 seconds remaining to seal the win as the Fresno State men's basketball team beat New Mexico State 88-83. It was Fresno State's first overtime game of the season and evened the season series against the Aggies, who won the first meeting 80-68 in Las Cruces, N.M. on January 8.
For the third time in four games, freshman Kevin Olekaibe led the Bulldogs in scoring. His 24 points came in a variety of ways. The top three point shooter on the squad made just one of his nine three point attempts, but he made all nine of his free throws and had the best dunk of the night going over 6-10, 270 pound Tshilidzi Nephawa of NMSU. Olekaibe was coming off a career high of 29 points against San Jose State last Saturday.
The Dogs jumped to an early lead of 14-4 over the first 5 minutes of the game, highlight by a Steven Shepp three pointer, a John Ryan dunk, a Shepp to Tim Steed alley-oop dunk and a trey by Kevin Olekaibe.
The Dogs built the lead without super sophomore Greg Smith, who committed two fouls in the first 1:47 of the game. He scored six points and had three rebounds in the first half in just nine minutes.
Aggies cut lead to 23-22 but Fresno State extended back to 10 points 36-26 with 2:25 left in the half. NMSU made another run at the end of the half where Fresno State led 37-35. The Dogs never trailed.
The Aggies pulled ahead 55-49 near the 10 minute mark, but Garrett Johnson made a three and stole the ball on the next possession and took it coast to coast for a dunk to cut the lead to 1 point.
Fresno State battled back to tie the game 65-65 on a Greg Smith bucket, but saw the Aggies again take control. With 94 seconds remaining, Olekaibe pulled the Dogs to within a point at 72-71.
The next basket came from Johnson, a three pointer that gave the Dogs a 74-72 lead with 41 second remaining. The Aggies tied the game with a couple free throws leaving the Dogs with the ball and 15 seconds in the second half, but the Dogs couldn't get a shot off and the game went to overtime.
Ned Golubovic scored the first basket of overtime and the Dogs would not trail again, extending their lead to six points for most of the overtime period. Fresno State made 10 of 12 free throws in the second half, 22-28 for the game.
"Sometimes you have to win games like that," said head coach Steve Cleveland. "It was a grind it out game like we see in the heart of league play. I'm so proud of this team for battling back. Greg (Smith) played great but we didn't have him much because of the fouls. Ned (Golubovic) played one of his best defensive games. Garrett (Johnson) and K.O. (Kevin Olekaibe) were clutch when we needed them. It was a total team effort. John Ryan and Jonathon Wills gave us good minutes. Bracken Funk only made one basket but he played with great energy and made three really good fouls. This was a game we needed and something we can build on for Saturday. We have a young group and each time out we are building blocks and we made a lot of progress tonight. We showed a lot of character and made a lot of clutch free throws when they counted against a good basketball team."
Smith, who played just 22 minutes and fouled out in regulation scored 17 points and had seven rebounds. Johnson scored 17 points, making three of four threes, and Golubovic had 14 points and eight rebounds with four assists and a career-high four steals.
The Dogs host La Tech on Saturday, Feb. 5, against La Tech at 8 p.m. PT.
"We are Your Team!" 559 more than just an area code on Feb. 5 when the Dogs host Louisiana Tech in a nationally televised game on ESPNU. All Fresno State faculty and staff will be admitted for free and Fresno State will honor all campus Greek organizations. In addition, Fresno State will celebrate its Centennial night and game sponsor Texaco will provide free T-shirts to the first 2,000 fans. Sports Chalet will give out 5,000 free mystery cards ranging in value from $5 to $100
5- $5 tickets to the game