This item originally appeared in the March 24, 2005 issue of The Tech Talk.
After Tech earned a 10-point halftime advantage over Fresno State in the quarterfinal round of the Western Athletic Conference Tournament in Reno, Nev., the story changed quickly, and Fresno State edged Tech 84-81 in overtime March 10.
Tech jolted to a 42-32 halftime lead, as Tech hit 52.9 percent (18-34) of its shots before intermission and held Fresno State to a 38.2 shooting percentage (13-34).
However, as Fresno State head coach Ray Lopes said, the contest was a tale of two halves, and the first-half fairy tale for Tech turned into a season-ending reoccurring nightmare.
Tech has won only one conference tournament game in its four years in the WAC and has dropped the first game of the tournament three times -- hence the reoccurring nightmare.
Tech's field goal percentage plummeted to 35.5 percent (11-31) in the second half and 11.1 percent (1-9) in overtime, as the nightmare developed into a reality.
"At halftime I told my players that they were playing like boys," Lopes said.
"I challenged them to play like men in the second half. We refocused, played harder and the guys really stepped up. In the second half, we out rebounded Tech, defended better and made the shots when we needed them."
While Tech's field goal percentage spiraled, Fresno State heated up in the second half and nailed seven of 13 three-pointers, led by Ja' Vance Coleman.
As the catalyst for Fresno State's second-half surge, Coleman went three for three beyond the arc and recorded 24 points, eight rebounds, five assists and two steals in the game.
Tech point guard Daevon Haskins extended Tech's lead to 46-35 with a lay-up less than two minutes into the second half.
Then, Coleman scored 10 of Fresno State's next 17 points, as Fresno State went on a 17-4 run over the next four minutes and took the lead on a three-pointer by Donovan Morris.
Tech senior guard Corey Dean broke Fresno State's run with a lay-up and tied the game at 52 with 14 minutes remaining, and the contest turned into a slugfest.
Tech finally regained the lead at 73-71 when sophomore forward Paul Millsap made a lay-up, but Morris hit another three-pointer to give Fresno State the one-point edge.
Neither team scored on the ensuing possessions until Fresno State missed a jump shot and fouled Tech senior guard Donell Allick with seven seconds remaining.
Allick made his first free throw and tied the score at 74, but the second rimmed out, sending the game into overtime where Tech's shooting got even colder.
Tech senior forward Wayne Powell made a three-pointer on Tech's first overtime possession, but Tech missed their last eight shots in overtime, as its final four points came by Millsap free throws.
After Powell's three-pointer, Coleman scored five straight points for Fresno State and clinched the win with two free throws with 12 seconds remaining, before Allick's misfire at the buzzer to tie the game.
"I didn't really have in mind to take over the game," Coleman said. "I just had the opportunities to drive, shoot, pass and make plays. The second half was all about opportunities for us, and we took advantage of them."
Tech had five players in double digit scoring, led by Millsap's 25 points and 17 rebounds.
Haskins scored 16 points, Dean had 12, Allick added 11 and Powell chipped in 10.
Richard dubbed the game a tale of two halves also, and he knew the Bulldogs' charity stripe Achilles heel played a role in the loss.
"It's been an up-and-down season for us -- you can tell by the way we finished 14-15," Richard said.
"We really needed some defensive stops in the second half that we didn't get, but we still could have won the game if we would have done some of the little things that when combined will give you a win. Those missed free throws and our lack of defense in the second half was the difference."
The loss ended the careers for seniors Allick, Dean, Powell and Barry Thompson, and Tech finished the season with a 14-15 overall record, 9-9 WAC record and no postseason bid.