Lavon Long scored 13 points and grabbed four rebounds as the Siena Saints outlasted the Fresno State Bulldogs, 61-57, at the Save Mart Center in the first game of a best-of-three College Basketball Invitational championship series.
Rob Poole netted 12 points on 4-of-12 shooting for Siena (19-17), which owns a 1-0 finals lead over Fresno State as the series shifts back to New York for the second contest. Ryan Oliver added 10 points and six boards in the win.
Cezar Guerrero scored a game-high 15 points for Fresno State (20-17), adding six rebounds and five assists to his stat line. Alex Davis and Marvelle Harris each chipped in 12 points, and Tyler Johnson contributed 10 points in the loss.
Fresno State connected on an even 50 percent of its field goal attempts in the first half, and went 4-of-10 from 3-point range to take a 32-26 lead over Siena at the midway break. Siena hit on 36.4 percent of its shot tries in the frame, and made just 2-of-7 from 3-point distance.
The Saints let their shooting accuracy dip to a dismal 30 percent in the second half, while the Bulldogs made 45 percent of their attempts from the floor in the period. But Siena outscored Fresno State from the free-throw line, 15-6, and from beyond the arc, 6-3, in the half to overtake the home team for the slim victory.
Siena had a 21-5 edge in bench scoring, and owned a 39-29 advantage in rebounding. Fresno State won the battle in fast break scoring, 13-0.