Fresno State men come back from 16 down to win

FRESNO, Calif. – The Fresno State men’s basketball team only managed five first half field goals, but a spirited effort in the second half allowed the Bulldogs to beat Utah State 61-54 Tuesday night at the Save Mart Center.

Fresno State (13-4, 3-1 Mountain West) trailed by as many as 16 points in the first half, and Utah State (10-8, 1-4 Mountain West) led 31-21 at the break.

“I thought early in the game our intensity and communication was not there,” said Bulldogs head coach Justin Hutson. “We just weren’t sharp. Over the course, we made a few changes but I thought we were just a little bit more locked in.”

The Bulldogs outscored the Aggies 40-23 in the second half, thanks to 56.5% shooting (13-23 FG) in the final 20 minutes.

Fresno State junior guard Deon Stroud played a big part in the win, as the former San Joaquin Memorial Panther came off the bench to score a game-high 14 points for the Bulldogs, with 12 of those coming after halftime.

“My opportunity came tonight,” said Stroud. “Keeping a straight head, staying level headed. My teammates do a great job giving me the ball.”

Anthony Holland added 13 points, including two big three-pointers down the stretch that helped the Bulldogs secure their first home win over the Aggies since Feb. 20, 2016, and only their second win in the last 11 meetings between the two schools.

“I just try to stay focused and finish the game strong,” said Holland. “Especially extra focus when it’s close.”

Bulldog star forward Orlando Robinson had a quiet night in the scoring column (only 11 points on 4-of-12 shooting), but he also contributed 13 rebounds and six assists.

The win extended the Bulldogs home winning streak to nine straight to open the season – just one shy of tying the arena record set over the course of two seasons in 2006.

The Bulldogs will visit Nevada next at 8 p.m. PT on Friday night.

Clovis West boys stay unbeaten in TRAC

CLOVIS, Calif. – Many experts have the Clovis West boys basketball team as the top-ranked team in the Central Section, and the Golden Eagles looked the part on Tuesday night, as they won 86-68 at league rival Clovis East.

With the win, the Golden Eagles are now 21-1 on the season, and 3-0 in the TRAC. The Timberwolves fall to 12-9 overall, and 1-2 in the TRAC.

Junior Isaac Martinez poured in a team-high 25 points for Clovis West and senior Trey Carr added 13 points.

Central Section championship games at Selland could be in jeopardy

FRESNO, Calif. – It is sounding unlikely the Central Section championship basketball games will be played at Selland Arena in late February this season.

Fresno County Superintendent of Schools Jim Yovino told Sports Central Tuesday the Fresno County Office of Education will not be able to help with the event this year because of all the uncertainty around the recent rise in COVID cases.

Yovino says each year, at no charge to the CIF, the FCOE has about 100 employees that help run the two-day high school hoops extravaganza, which includes 12 total boys and girls championship games over two days at Selland Arena in downtown Fresno.

Yovino says if the COVID numbers continue to go up, “it would be a logistical nightmare” to bring all the different teams into Fresno in a safe manner, and that his office does not “want to plan something and then have to pull the plug at the last minute.”

Yovino stressed that he loves the relationship that has grown between his organization, the city of Fresno and the CIF’s Central Section with regards to the championship games being held at Selland each year, and looks forward to the relationship continuing in the coming years.

Despite not having the parternship with the FCOE this year, in a text to Sports Central Tuesday, Central Section commissioner Ryan Tos said “we are still exploring other avenues to keep the finals at Selland Arena. Nothing has been decided at this point in time.”