In front of 14,770 people, the fourth-largest crowd in Save Mart Center history, the Fresno State men’s basketball team ended Saturday night with an 80-64 victory over the Cal State Northridge Matadors.
The Bulldogs saw improvement in their play compared with their Tuesday night game at Pitts-burgh, as six players had double-digit points. Guard Tyler Johnson, the leader of the pack, had his sixth career double-double with 18 points and 12 rebounds.
Freshman Karachi Edo had 10 points and only missed one shot (5-6), and sophomore Marvelle Harris tallied 12 points and nine rebounds.
“It was definitely something we worked on and really stressed in the two days we’ve been back,” said Fresno State coach Rodney Terry. “We worked on being physical and blocking with our big guys, with the intent of our guards coming down and getting the rebounds.”
“I tried to find other ways to get involved in the game,” Johnson said, “because in the other two games, I didn’t shoot very well.”
Guard Cezar Guerrero scored the first bucket for Fresno State with a fall-away jumper 29 seconds into the contest. He finished the game with 10 points and nine assists.
“Coach Terry told me before the game to get the guys involved,” Guerrero said of his assists. “And I got myself going, but I get a kick out of seeing these guys smile and just seeing them have fun”
With a 27-25 lead and 4:27 remaining in the first half, Fresno State went on a 14-2 run to end the frame. Freshman forward Paul Watson and senior Allen Huddleston had five points each during the stretch.
“[The Matadors] are a team that can really put pressure on you in transition in terms of their offense,” Terry said. “And for that 4-minute stretch, we played harder and saw the results going into halftime.”
Northridge had a stronger second half. Guard Josh Greene (15) and forward Stephen Maxwell (11) had double-digit points in the frame. The team improved on its shooting, with 51.9 percent of shots made, compared with 37.9 in the first.
For Fresno State, the second half saw a dip in free-throw (88.9 percent to 55.6) and 3-point (27.3 to 20) shooting. Watson led the squad in points (8) and shot 3 of 5 from the field.
With a total of 13 points, Watson has scored 10 or more in three consecutive games.
Defensively, the Bulldogs had more rebounds (36 to 24), steals (6 to 4) and blocks (5 to 2) in the game than the Matadors, but Terry believes that there is still room for improvement as the sea-son continues.
“We have a long way to go in terms of where we want to be defensively,” Terry said. “I think that we can still push the ball harder in transition. We want a fast team, we want to be up and down the floor.”
The Bulldogs will remain at home and host the Cal Poly Mustangs on Wednesday night at 7 p.m.