BOULDER, Colo. - Second half rallies are becoming a staple of the Bulldog men's basketball team and Wednesday featured yet another fearless comeback before Colorado mustered just enough to fend off Fresno State 71-64 at the Coors Event Center.
The 'Dogs dug themselves a 20-point first-half hole that sophomore guard Kevin Olekaibe and an aggressive team defense helped cut to three at 55-52 with 6:18 left in the game.
"I thought we hung tough," Bulldogs head coach Rodney Terry said. "We are going to be in games like this all season. This was a lot like a conference game against a top team. We can't fall behind by that much. Our second half effort was much better, but I credit them (Colorado) for how well they played tonight."
The dogfight continued until the waning seconds when Colorado (5-3) locked down at the charity stripe to hold off the sharp-shooting of Olekaibe, who netted a season-high 26 points.
"We fought back and kept battling back," Olekaibe said. "It's a pretty tough loss and definitely hurts."
Olekaibe had given the Bulldogs their only lead by converting a pair of free throws for the first points of the game.
Colorado then buckled down and roared on a 15-3 run for a 10-point lead (15-5) midway through the first half and pulled ahead by 20 largely behind the power of 13 first-half points by CU's Andre Roberson.
CU led 38-23 at halftime after Olekaibe tallied the final five points of the half - a putback lay-up and buzzer-beating 3-pointer on a designed inbounds play that started with just 0.7 seconds left on the clock following a Fresno State timeout.
Through the first 20 minutes, the Buffaloes owned an 18-10 advantage in the paint, 22-12 edge on the boards and outshot Fresno State 59.1 (13-for-22) to 26.7 (8-for-30) percent from the field.
After the break, Fresno State used the late first-half momentum and extended their run to 10-0 to cut the deficit to 38-28 with 18:07 remaining and stepped up on both ends of the floor down the stretch.
The Bulldogs outscored the Buffs 41-33 in the second half and Fresno State ultimately found success in the paint with a 28-26 edge for the game inside despite falling to the Pacific-12 Conference team.
Despite keeping the game close at the end, the Bulldogs couldn't completely erase the 20-point deficit and CU held on for their 27th straight home non-conference victory.
Olekaibe, who recorded 17 of his game-high 26 in the second-half, extended his double-digit scoring streak to 11 consecutive games on 8-of-24 shooting with five 3-pointers and a perfect 5-for-5 night at the free throw line. Tyler Johnson chipped in 11 points and Jonathan Wills produced eight points despite limited action due to foul trouble. Wills and Kevin Foster both fouled out while Jerry Brown and Olekaibe finished with four personal fouls each.
"We have to get some rest and be ready to go on Saturday," Olekaibe also noted.
Roberson picked up his seventh double-double of the year with a career-high 21 points and 10 rebounds and Spencer Dinwiddie added 15 points to lead the Buffs.
Fresno State (4-5) closes its three-game span against Pac-12 opponents at Oregon on Saturday night at 7 p.m. PT. The game can be viewed on Comcast Sports Net Northwest.
"We Are Your Team!" - Fresno State completes a three-game stretch against Pacific-12 teams on Saturday at Oregon before returning to the San Joaquin Valley for a Dec. 17 home game against Cal Poly. To secure single-game tickets, you can visit Ticketmaster online, through ticketmaster.com, call 1-800-745-3000 or visit the Save Mart Center Box Office between 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. (Monday-Friday) or two hours prior to tip off on gamedays. Make sure to also like Fresno State Athletics on Facebook and follow @FSAthletics on Twitter for the latest updates from the 'Dogs.
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