Fresno State guard Cezar Guerrero (right) protects the basketball in the Bulldogs’ 81-63 win over the San Jose State Spartans Wednesday night at the Save Mart Center. (Darlene Wendels/The Collegian)
For the first time this season, five Bulldogs scored in double figures as the men’s basketball team topped the San Jose State Spartans 81-63 Wednesday night at the Save Mart Center.
The season sweep also helped the ‘Dogs (11-12, 6-4 Mountain West) snap a two-game losing streak.
“We’ve been at our best when we’ve had a number of guys in double figures,” head coach Rodney Terry said. “It’s important to have a balance when it comes to scoring. You can’t just win a game by thinking you’re going to have one guy carry you.”
Fresno State was able to get several double-digit leads but was never completely able to pull away in the first half. Fueled by a 3-point shot from guard Isaac Thornton, the Spartans (2-20, 0-10 MW) went on a 5-0 run in the final two minutes to get within six at halftime.
Within the first three minutes of the second period, the ‘Dogs’ lead was cut to two. But they responded using a key pair of threes from guards Darnell Taylor and Emmanuel Owootoah to get their lead back up to double digits.
The ‘Dogs led the remainder of the game, increasing their lead to as much as 22.
Fresno State was also productive from the field, shooting 52.9 percent.
Terry said the 17 assists the Bulldogs accounted for played a major role as they provided more opportunities when it came to scoring the basketball.
“Because of our assists, we were highly successful from an offensive standpoint,” Terry said. “We shared and moved the basketball tonight. Player-ball movement was a major emphasis going into this game, and I thought our guys did that tonight.
“We almost did that a little bit too much unselfishly in the first half because we passed up some really good, open shots, but, nevertheless, we had a solid effort in that area.”
Cezar Guerrero led the team with 14 points in his first start of the year, forward Karachi Edo was responsible for 12; Julien Lewis and Marvelle Harris contributed 11 apeice, and Paul Watson added 10.
The ‘Dogs also came away with 14 steals in Wednesday’s league victory.
Rashad Muhammad had a team-best 16 points for the Spartans, and fellow guard Isaac Thornton had 14.
At 6-4, the Bulldogs are now in a fourth-place tie with Utah State in the conference standings. Fresno State will visit UNLV on Tuesday. This gives the Bulldogs nearly a weeklong break before their next contest, something that is rare in basketball, and something they could potentially use in their favor.
Around this time last season, the Bulldogs gained momentum before the Mountain West Conference Tournament by winning eight of their last 10 regular season games.
“This break before our next game gives us a chance to continue to work on our skill set, get in the weight room and try to maintain the level that we’ve had the last couple days,” Terry said. “I feel OK about where we are right now, especially from a conditioning standpoint. Right now, it’s about staying focused and staying sharp.”