The sixth man couldn't help Siena in the second game of the College Basketball Invitational championship, and the Saints fell at home to the Fresno State Bulldogs 89-75:
Eighty seems to be the magic number for the Bulldogs. They move to 8-1 when scoring at least 80 points, per the team's Twitter account:
When playing on the road, the first thing you want to do is take the home crowd out of the game. The easiest way to do that is to jump out to a massive lead early, and that's exactly what Fresno State did.
It built a 10-point lead, 21-11, with under eight minutes left in the first half and didn't let up from there.
At halftime, Fresno held a 43-24 lead, and this game was all but over. The Bulldogs missed only five of their 21 field-goal attempts in the first half, grabbing 19 rebounds and dishing out 10 assists. Compare that to 10-of-28 shooting for Siena to go along with seven rebounds and four assists.
Rather than providing a boost, the Associated Press' John Kekis wondered if playing on campus for the first time in 17 years was too much for the Saints players:
Siena made a brief run in the second half to close the gap to 13 points, 63-50. Brett Bisping was the catalyst, as the sophomore forward had scored 15 points all on his own, per Mark Singelais of the Times Union:
Fresno State quickly regained the advantage and put the final nail in the Saints' coffin. The deficit was too great for Siena.
Tyler Johnson led the way for the Bulldogs. The senior guard scored 19 points and added four rebounds and three assists.
He clearly wasn't swayed by Siena head coach Jimmy Patsos' gift before the game, per the Saints' Twitter account:
Senior Allen Huddleston was also huge for Fresno, coming off the bench to score 20 points. He was a perfect six of six from the field. For a comparison, Siena's bench scored 24 points as a whole.
Huddleston and Johnson were two of five Bulldogs players who scored in double figures.
As a team, Fresno State finished 63.9 percent from the field and 53.3 percent from three-point range. It outrebounded the Saints 29-18.
After the Bulldogs' loss to Siena Monday night, head coach Rodney Terry admitted his team lacked the desire to win, per Robert Kuwada of The Fresno Bee:
I always say, offensive rebounding and getting after it, that's all want-to. I said that a number of times in the huddle (Monday) -- they want-to right now more than we do.
That hurts me a lot as a coach because I like to think that our team is never going to be a team that doesn't want it as much as the other team and doesn't want to compete at the level you have to compete in terms of man on man, bone on bone, and they did that. You have to give them a lot of credit, take your hat off to them in terms of them out-competing us on the glass.
Fresno State's players offered a swift response, dominating the Saints from the opening tip.
Bisping did his best to propel Siena to victory, leading the team with 20 points, but he received little support otherwise. Marquis Wright had 14 points. No other Saints player scored more than eight points, though.
What also really hurt Siena was foul trouble. Both Lavon Long and Rob Poole fouled out for the Saints. The Bulldogs also went to the charity stripe 43 times, knocking down 31 free throws.
You can't lose two starters and surrender 43 foul shots and still expect to win the game (or at least attempt a prolonged comeback). Between that and its poor defensive performance, Siena didn't stand a chance.
With Fresno State's win, the CBI championship goes to the decisive third game, which will be at Siena on Saturday at 11:30 a.m. ET. A two-day break may be just what the doctor prescribed for the Saints.
Patsos will have some time to talk to his players and help them forget about this poor performance. Fresno State also can't immediately build upon the momentum it created Wednesday night. You'd have to think Saturday's game will be much more competitive.
If the Bulldogs play at the level they did in Game 2, though, no amount of home-court advantage will be enough to stop them.