Four Bulldogs scored in double figures, as the Fresno State men’s basketball team opened its season Sunday afternoon with a 77-38 exhibition win over UC Santa Cruz.
“Some of the things we were happy with tonight were the first-half defensive effort, and the fact that we were able to throw the ball inside and get the ball to our post players in the [game],” associate head coach Michael Schwartz said. “So we felt good that we executed that. I think that was big to get the experience for the freshmen, some of the transfers and obviously returning guys.”
Fourth-year head coach Rodney Terry’s squad got off to a quick start, leading 37-9 by the half and holding the Banana Slugs to 11.1 percent shooting in the first 20 minutes.
“The first half effort we were more pleased with,” Schwartz said. “They got comfortable in the second half and started making some shots, so we’ll continue to improve on that. But overall, we’re pleased with the defensive effort.”
In a game where the Bulldogs shot 51.9 percent from the field, four players managed to rack up double digits.
Sophomore forward Paul Watson led the team with a game-high 18 points on 6-of-13 shooting including 2-of-7 from three-point range. Others in double figures included junior Marvelle Harris (15), junior college transfer Darnell Taylor (11) and sophomore Karachi Edo with 12.
“I think that’s the strength of this team,” Schwartz said. “Having three or four guys that are capable of being threats on offense really helps the offense get rolling. As coaches, we want that, because we like to see our guys share the basketball.”
Harris feels like this was a good game for the Bulldogs in terms of seeing where the team’s chemistry stands.
“We just wanted to get a feel for playing in a live game together,” Harris said. “We had a scrimmage about a week or two ago, and we just wanted to get up and down the court for a full 40 minutes and see what it is like playing with each other in a real game.”
Junior forward James Townsend and freshman guard Adam Marlow each had 10 points for the Banana Slugs.
The 2014-2015 Bulldogs will look to build on last year’s 21-win season, in which they reached the finals of the College Basketball Invitational.
They plan on keeping the momentum going Friday when it travels to Southern California to take on Pepperdine University in a nonconference match.