Weber State’s final two possessions Wednesday at Fresno State played out like this:
Freshman wing player Israel Barnes drove the lane, went behind his back and scooped in a layup with his left hand; then, with 28 seconds left, he banked in a 3-pointer from straightaway.
That sequence was all that ensured the Wildcats would cross the 50-point mark as the homestanding Bulldogs defeated Weber State 71-52 at the Save Mart Center.
The result was a stark contrast to Saturday’s 113-103 win over BYU. As hard as WSU played — forcing 12 turnovers early and largely holding Fresno off the scoreboard for long stretches — none of it could overcome how poorly the Wildcats shot.
Barnes’ banked 3 made Weber 4 of 20 (20 percent) from deep. Overall, the Wildcats shot 17 of 51 (33 percent) and also made 14 of 23 (61 percent) at the foul line. The poor shooting meant WSU could only turn 17 Fresno turnovers into eight points.
“There was a lid on that thing,” head coach Randy Rahe said. “That may be as good a defense as I’ve seen played against us in the last couple years.
“We missed some really open looks that first 10-13 minutes of the first half. I think if a couple of those go down ... our confidence goes up, I think we feel much better about ourselves and we’re going to play better. They didn’t ... it was not a good offensive night for us.”
The Wildcats made it a back-and-forth battle early. Caleb Nero knocked in a jumper from the elbow to tie the game 17-17 with about four minutes left in the first half.
But Noah Blackwell opened the gates for Fresno, who is in the midst of seven straight home games, by hitting a stepback 3-pointer to beat the shot clock. That began what was a 13-3 run to end the half, giving the Bulldogs a 30-20 halftime advantage.
Fresno came out of the locker room having found some offense. Weber State did not.
Braxton Huggins and Sam Bittner hit 3-pointers as part of a 12-2 run to open the second half, which in aggregate gave the Bulldogs a 25-5 rally.
When the run finished, Fresno State led 42-22 and had effectively put the game away.
Cody John finished with 17 points on 6-of-12 shooting. Jerrick Harding was the only other Wildcat in double figures with 13, grabbing a team-high six rebounds and three steals. Barnes added eight points.
Huggins led Fresno with 17 points, Blackwell added 16 and Nate Grimes 14.
The game was the second in a three-game series that will see Fresno State visit the Dee Events Center next season.
Weber State next plays Utah State in the Beehive Classic at 2:30 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 8, at Vivint Arena.