Oct 15, 2019
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Fresno State forward Paul Watson finishes a fast break play with a dunk during the 'Dogs' 93-55 victory over the Bristol University Bears Monday night at the Save Mart Center. Photo by Logan Downing/The Collegian

Men’s Basketball: Fresno State captures first win in home opener

Fresno State forward Paul Watson finishes a fast break play with a dunk during the 'Dogs' 93-55 victory over the Bristol University Bears Monday night at the Save Mart Center. Photo by Logan Downing/The Collegian

Fresno State forward Paul Watson finishes a fast break play with a dunk during the ‘Dogs’ 93-55 victory over the Bristol University Bears Monday night at the Save Mart Center. Photo by Logan Downing/The Collegian

A strong second-half performance helped lift the Fresno State men’s basketball team over the Bristol University Bears (0-3) 93-55 in Monday night’s home opener at the Save Mart Center.

“I said to our guys earlier that this is a game of habits,” Fresno State head coach Rodney Terry said. “You set the tone with the way you come out and warm up and how you prepare yourself. This time of year is about us, not about who we’re playing. It’s about us trying to improve in areas that we need to get better and come out and execute and work hard on both ends of the floor.”

Sophomore Paul Watson paved the way for the Bulldogs with a career-high 28 points with 18 of those coming in the second half.

The 6-foot-7 Watson has the ability to play both guard and forward but played power forward in Monday’s game, and his unique athleticism made him a matchup problem for defenders.

“I’m comfortable with playing forward because I played there last year,” Watson said. “I just try to take advantage of bigger post players trying to come up and guard on the perimeter and just use my guard skills to my advantage.

“I got into a rhythm early, and I tried to get out before the game and get some shots up and it worked for me.”

In a back-and-forth opening half, the 42.9 percent 3-point shooting kept the Bears competitive in the first frame.

Fueled by a stout defensive performance, the ‘Dogs began to pull away in the second half. Fresno State would came out of the locker room and went on an 18-2 run and eventually go on to score the Bears 56-21 in the period.

Julien Lewis, a University of Texas transfer, continued to be productive for the Bulldogs. Lewis has now contributed double digits in each of the Fresno State’s two games this year. The junior totaled 19 points in last Friday’s season opener at Pepperdine.

Bulldogs’ standout guard Marvelle Harris netted a game-high 25 points in last week’s game opener but struggled this game, shooting 0 for 7 from the field and managing just seven points, all coming from the free-throw line.

Despite the low numbers, Terry was satisfied with Harris’ performance because he felt like he contributed in other areas of the game.

“Marvelle is a guy that we’re going to count on to score for us,” Terry said. “Tonight, he didn’t have it going particularly well in the scoring department but he finished with nine rebounds and four assists. There are other ways you can affect and put your will on the game. I also thought he guarded on defense much better.

“Those things are winning basketball. When you sacrifice for your team, and we have a whole flow of guys sacrificing for the team, we have a chance to win at the elite level.”

Fresno State will hit the road for a four-game road trip before coming back home to take on Cal on Nov. 30th.

The trip begins Thursday in Flagstaff, Arizona, when the Bulldogs battle the Northern Arizona Lumberjacks followed by the 2014 Gulf Coast Showcase in Estero, Florida, which runs from Nov. 24-26.

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