Fresno State forward Karachi Edo slams one in toward the end of the ‘Dogs’ victory over UC Irvine Wednesday at the Save Mart Center. Photo by Darlene Wendels/The Collegian
Three Bulldogs scored in double figures to help lift the Fresno State men’s basketball team past UC Irvine 72-63 Wednesday night at home.
The win over the Anteaters (3-3) helped the ‘Dogs, who are now 2-6, end a five-game losing streak.
“I thought that our guys did a really good job of setting the tone early tonight,” Bulldogs head coach Rodney Terry said. “And I think they sustained it throughout.”
Sophomores Paul Watson and Karachi Edo dropped 23 and 21 points, respectively, while junior guard Marvelle Harris contributed 14 for the night. The 21 points marked a career-high for the 6-foot-6 sophomore forward, and he added 10 rebounds to record a double-double.
Watson, one of the leading scorers from last year, continues to be productive for the Bulldogs, ranking third on the team in points per game with 12.6.
“We need Paul to score,” Terry said. “Paul is a guy that we need every night to be a really good defender for us and a guy who rebounds the basketball and scores for us. I thought that he came in and did those things for us tonight at a high level.
“Much like Karachi Edo. Karachi needs to defend, rebound and give us a low post presence and and he did that tonight with scoring in the post..”
With things neck-and-neck midway through the first period, Fresno State used 14 first-half points from Watson go on a 12-2 run to get out to a 36-27 lead at the half.
Defensively, the Bulldogs took advantage of 17 Anteater turnovers, including 10 in the second half to pull away.
UC Irvine cut the ‘Dogs’ lead to as low as six in the second half in the final minute, but seven straight points capped by a dunk by Edo helped seal the first victory for the Bulldogs over a Division I opponent this season.
“We haven’t been in that situation much this year,” Terry said, “and obviously, we have to work on finishing ballgames down the stretch. But I was really proud with the way they stayed together. I thought they played as a team and played really hard tonight.
“This was absolutely one of our best defensive performances. This team that came in here is an NCAA-caliber team. We knew it was going to be a grind tonight, and I’m just really proud of how the guys dug in stayed together.”
Like the Bulldogs, a trio of players for UC Irvine also totaled double digits, led by Will Davis and Jaron Martin with 12 apiece.
“It’s definitely a great feeling,” Watson said. “In the past 48 hours, we just came together and got our roles down. We knew what we needed to get done and we couldn’t talk about it anymore we just had to go our there and do it.”
For its following contest, Fresno State goes on the road to take on CSU Bakersfield (1-6) this Saturday at 7 p.m.
“This is a good starting point for us right now,” Terry said. “We just have to continue to build on being a good team and being good teammates.”