Following their win on the road with another strong performance, the Bulldogs easily defeated San Diego Christian 84-49 Thursday night.
Fresno State started a little slow, but found its groove toward the end of the first half. The ’Dogs played sluggish at the beginning of the game, but they settled down and scored 19 points going into the first official timeout.
“We wanted to again come out and play the way we’ve been playing all year long. We didn’t want to come out and make this a pickup game,” coach Rodney Terry said. “We knew we were going to play a team that shoots a lot of 3-point shots and long rebounds.”
Coming out of the timeout Fresno State continued to put pressure on the Hawks. However, San Diego Christian was able to close the scoring gap to 25-20 with 7:44 remaining in the half.
Junior guard Allen Huddleston was able to lengthen the Bulldogs’ lead with two 3-pointers in a row. This put Fresno State up by 12 as the ’Dogs went into the first half leading 39-27.
Tyler Johnson, who scored a career-high 19 points in Fresno State’s last game against Long Beach State, contributed again Thursday night for the ’Dogs. Johnson dished out two assists in addition to the 11 points he scored.
In the second half, the Hawks were able to answer Fresno State’s surge as they closed the scoring gap to nine points. San Diego Christian was unable to get any closer as the Bulldogs began to pull away behind the energy of forward Jerry Brown. He came off the bench registering 21 minutes, 12 points and nine rebounds.
“Coach really challenged me this week and I had to take it upon myself and my teammates to respond to Coach. I felt like I did respond and I just have to keep on going and keep on building from this,” Brown said.
Terry added, “Jerry came into the game and he changed the game with his energy and defensive force. He also had great opportunities and was a rebounding force. He changed the game and was a difference in the game.
“Jerry’s really done it (been energizing) over the last two games. And he hasn’t sat there and pouted or felt sorry for himself.”
The Bulldogs were unselfish in their gameplay as four players had three or more assists in the game. Fresno State also collected 18 steals, which is one shy of the school record set in the 1998-99 season.
“We definitely wanted to beat these guys a little bit. And for the first half we, for whatever reason, weren’t able to set that tone from the beginning,” Terry said. “Nevertheless, our guys picked up the pressure in the second half.”
For much of the second half, the Bulldogs played their bench players (notably Brown) as guards Aaron Anderson had 17 minutes and Marvelle Harris had 18. Standout center Robert Upshaw also had 15 minutes.
“For the young guys it’s about the experience. The minutes are valuable and they’re out there in game situations to get better,” Terry said.
Fresno State returns to action Sunday when they go on the road to play Washington State. The ’Dogs return to the Save Mart Center next Thursday to face No. 23 Colorado in an anticipated matchup.
“We’ve already started preparation in terms of Washington State. We know that they’re a very good opponent on its home court,” Terry said. “And we’re playing for our next game and that’s what those possessions are about.”