By Stephen Trembley
By Stephen Trembley
CARBONDALE, Illinois - The Fresno State men's basketball team erased a 12-point second half deficit and then squandered the lead in the final minute to lose at Southern Illinois 57-54 on Wednesday night at SIU Arena.
Southern Illinois' Desmar Jackson scored the final three of a game-high 25 points when he hit the game-winning off-balance 3-pointer with 11.7 seconds to play and lift the Salukis to 4-1 on the season.
"We kept battling and I thought we were going to pull this one out," Fresno State head coach Rodney Terry said. "We took it down to the wire and the kid Jackson was tough all night and SIU made big plays when they had to. He had an answer all night."
The Bulldogs' junior point guard Allen Huddleston netted a team-best 12 points and freshman Marvelle Harris posted 11 points in the contest that was part of the Mountain West-Missouri Valley Challenge.
"Marvelle has been a very poised freshman - not just tonight, but for the better part of the season," Terry said. "We are building with our young guys. We have to get to a point as a program where we expect to win and are not just hoping to win. That's the next step for us. We have to find ways to win."
The Bulldogs played from behind for the entire first half and trailed the Salukis 26-21 despite Fresno State being held without a field goal for 10 minutes and 49 seconds of the game and were outshot 45.5 percent to 31.8 percent from the floor by Southern Illinois in the first 20 minutes of action.
After the deficit grew to 12 points when SIU's Jeff Early buried a jumper with 14:04 to play to put the Salukis up 38-26, the 'Dogs went on a 16-4 run over the next nearly seven minutes to pull within a point at 43-42.
Fresno State then took its first lead with just 2:22 remaining when junior Tyler Johnson drove to the rack for a 3-point play the hard way by dropping in a lay-up and converting the ensuing free throw to life the Bulldogs ahead 52-51. Johnson fouled out 12 seconds later.
With the score tied at 54-54 and 37 seconds on the game clock, SIU methodically worked their half-court offense to milk the shot clock and saw Jackson launch the off-balance game-winning 3-pointer from near the top of the key with just four seconds on the shot clock.
Fresno State (3-3) concludes its two-game road stretch by heading down to play at Long Beach State on Monday night at 7 p.m. PT.
"Discover Fresno State Athletics!" --- Fresno State men's basketball mini-plans - the Holiday Gift Package (starts as low as $35) and the Mountain West Mini-Plan (starts as low as $85) - are on sale now by calling 559-278-DOGS or visiting www.gobulldogs.com/miniplan. The flagship radio stations for Fresno State men's basketball are KMJ 580 AM (English) and ESPN Deportes 1600 AM (Spanish).
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