FRESNO, CA-- ODU junior guard Dimitri Batten scored 14, freshman forward Denzell Taylor 12 and sophomore Keenan Palmore 11 but Fresno State (20-16) held off the Monarchs rally for a 71-64 victory in the CBI semifinal Wednesday night at the Save Mart Center. The Monarchs finished the season at 18-18 one of the two most improved teams in the nation over last year.
Marvelle Harris led Fresno State with 20 points, while Paul watson scored 15 and Cezar Guerrero added 14, including 10-for-11 from the free throw line.
Down by as many as 11 in the first half, the Monarchs rallied to cut the lead to 35-31 at halftime after a basket by Denzell Taylor.
In the second half, the Monarchs got to within one, 46-45 after a Batten layup with 10:51 left, and 48-47 at 10:05 left on a Richard Ross follow. Fresno State upped the lead to six, but the Monarchs cut it to two, 53-51 after two Denzell Taylor free throws at the 6:15 mark.
Tyler Johnson hit two free throws, followed by two more from Marvelle Harris for a 57-51 Bulldog lead with 4:16 remaining. ODU would cut it two four two more times, but could get no closer. In all, Fresno would go 10-for-11 from the free throw line in the final 3-plus minutes of play, and 27-34 (.794) for the game.
The Monarchs shot .385 (25-65) from the floor, while Fresno State shot .526 (20-38). The Monarchs outrebounded the taller Bulldogs, 36-27. Denzell taylor led with seven rebounds for ODU, while Richard Ross, Keenan Palmore and Dimitri Batten each had six rebounds.
Palmore also led ODU with four assists and three steals on the night. The Monarchs came up with a game high 10 steals, and outscored the Bulldogs in the paint, 38-20.
"We wanted to hang in there and give ourselves a chance," said head coach Jeff Jones."We had a couple of near misses, but just couldn't get over the hump. I thought Harris was the difference as he took over the game for Fresno State. I am so proud of this team and how they battled all season long."
Fresno State will now play Siena in the CBI's best of three series beginning Monday.