Babbitt’s 20 second-half points not enough
FRESNO – Greg Smith had 25 points, 11 rebounds and five assists as Fresno State held off Nevada for an 87-77 victory on Saturday night.
Mike Ladd added 14 points, and Brandon Sperling had 10 points, eight rebounds and seven assists for the Bulldogs (11-10, 4-3 Western Athletic Conference), which snapped a three-game losing streak.
Luke Babbitt scored 29 points for Nevada (12-8, 4-3), including 10 in a row as the Wolf Pack trimmed a 17-point deficit to five with 3:43 remaining.
But Smith’s three-point play put Fresno State ahead 78-70 with 3:20 left, and Nevada got no closer than seven the rest of the way.
The Bulldogs played without leading scorer Paul George, who sprained his right ankle in Thursday’s loss against Utah State. The sophomore forward could miss up to three weeks, coach Steve Cleveland said.
Fresno State shot 59.3 percent, including a sizzling 63 percent in the first half.
Brandon Fields added 18 points for Nevada, and Armon Johnson had 13 points and five assists. Babbitt led the Wolf Pack with 10 rebounds.
Leading 42-39 at halftime, Fresno State used a 12-2 run to open a double-digit cushion. Ladd and Sperling each hit 3-pointers during the surge, and Steven Shepp drove for a layup to put the Bulldogs ahead 62-47 with 13:28 remaining.
Fresno State led 68-51 when the Wolf Pack made its run. Babbitt, the WAC preseason player of the year, scored 20 of Nevada’s 38 second-half points.
The Bulldogs trailed most of the first half until Smith gave Fresno State its first lead, 26-25, by spinning past Keith Olsen on the baseline for a layup.
Fields had 14 points and made two 3-pointers in the first half.