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The Collegian

Fresno State's student-run newspaper

The Collegian

Fresno State's student-run newspaper

The Collegian

Jacqueline Carrillo/The Collegian
Bulldog guard Donovan Yap jumps up for layup in the Thomas & Mack Center on March 13.

Third time’s a charm for the ‘Dogs in the Mountain West tournament

In an arena filled with Cowboys fans the ‘Dogs held up against all odds to move on to the quarterfinals of the Mountain West tournament.

“As a coach and as a leader you want success for [the team], that’s the first thing,” said Fresno State Head Coach Justin Hutson. “You want to see them cheer and jump around.”

The two teams faced off twice earlier this season. Once on Jan. 13 where the ‘Dogs lost 68-67 and again on March 9 at the Save Mart Center where the Cowboys dominated the court, securing an 86-47 win.

This game was much different than the first two, as the Bulldogs held up offensively.
The Fresno State men’s basketball team defeated Wyoming 77-73 at the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas on March 13.

The ‘Dogs opened up the game by getting on the board first to set the tone.

But the Cowboys responded on offense to take an early 12-9 lead.

With 13 minutes in the first half, Bulldog guard Donovan Yap Jr. entered the game after not playing for over a month due to an injury earlier this season.

After trailing, Bulldog guard Isaiah Pope connected from behind the arc to bring them to a 3-point deficit.

Once again, a mid-range jumper by Pope shortened the score to a 1-point game, 25-24.

Just as the Bulldogs were gaining momentum, the Cowboys stopped it by going on a 7-0 run, forcing the ‘Dogs to take a timeout.

The hand injury didn’t affect Yap’s shooting, as he accumulated 6 points during the final three minutes of the first half.

“[The hand] is feeling good, it’s a little sore,” Yap said.

The Cowboys closed out the first half on top 40-33.

Opening up the second half, an assist from Pope to guard Leo Colimerio got the ‘Dogs on the board, 40-35.

Building off how he ended the first half, Yap accumulated four more points, creating an offensive spark.

Pope broke through the defense for a layup to put the ‘Dogs in a one-possession game, 44-43.

Bulldog guard Isaiah Pope jumps up for layup in the Thomas & Mack Center on March 13. (Jacqueline Carrillo/The Collegian)

The Fresno State band and dance team, who were the Bulldog’s loudest fans at the game shouted “defense, defense.”

The scoring rhythm began for the ‘Dogs with Yap going 2-for-2 on free throws, taking the lead 45-44.

Yap was the Bulldogs’ second leading scorer of the game with 16 points, going 4-for-5 in the paint, 1-for-2 from behind the arc and 7-for-8 from the free throw line.

“For the most part I just didn’t want to let my teammates down,” Yap said. “I wanted to come in and give it my all.”

Although the scoring was back-and-forth, both teams remained strong on offense, connecting on the rim to keep a tie game, 52-52.

Yellow and brown filled up the stands in support of the Cowboys as they cheered “defense, defense” midway through the second half.

Wyoming fans stand and cheer for the Cowboys in the Thomas & Mack Center on March 13. (Jacqueline Carrillo)

Foul trouble started to creep up on the ‘Dogs as Colimerio and Pope both had four fouls each.

A 10-0 run by the Cowboys quickly shifted the momentum, forcing Hutson to take a timeout as the ‘Dogs fell behind 67-58.

With four minutes and 28 seconds remaining in the game, Pope fouled out as the Bulldogs’ top scorer. He finished with 22 points, shooting 7-for-14 from the field, 1-for-6 from behind the arc and 7-for-7 from the free throw line.

Despite the hostile environment, the ‘Dogs fought back with a 6-0 run to trail behind by only 1 point, 72-71.

After a defensive rebound, Yap shot a layup to give the ‘Dogs a one-point lead.

With 16 seconds remaining in the game the ‘Dogs had one more chance to make a defensive stop to secure the win.

The Bulldogs did just that.

With the stop the ‘Dogs finished on a 2-0 run defeating the Cowboys 77-73.

Fresno State will move on to the quarterfinal round of the Mountain West tournament. It will take on No. 1 Utah State on March 14 at the Thomas & Mack Center at noon.

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About the Contributor
Alexis Bruno
Alexis Bruno, Sports Editor
Alexis Bruno is class of 2025 and the Sports Editor for The Collegian. Alexis has been writing for The Collegian since 2023 and specializes in writing sports. Alexis is an MCJ broadcasting major and wants to pursue a career in sports sideline reporting.
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