The Fresno State men’s basketball team defeated California State University, Northridge 89-73 at the Save Mart Center on Monday.
The Bulldogs improved to 2-0 behind dominant shooting performances from guards Deshon Taylor and Jahmel Taylor.
“Tonight was a great game for us in terms of the matchup with Northridge,” Fresno State head coach Rodney Terry said. “We knew they were going to try to match us, and we knew we still needed to improve and get better.”
The ‘Dogs shot a game-high 58 percent from 3-point range and 62 percent from the field. Led by Jahmel Taylor, who hit a career-high six 3s, the home team jumped out to a 16-point lead in the first half and was able to fend off any chance of a comeback.
Jahmel Taylor credited his teammates for getting him open, but also credited a timely phone call from his brother for his efficient shooting.
“The team found me in the right spots, and I was ready to shoot each time,” Jahmel Taylor said. “My brother challenged me when I was on the phone with him to at least make four [3s] tonight. He said I had to make a minimum of four, so I kind of did that for him.”
His running mate, Deshon Taylor, chipped in 18 points of his own behind 50 percent shooting from 3-point range and the field.
Forward Bryson Williams added 15 points to help the ‘Dogs outscore the Matadors 48-24 in the paint. Guard Jaron Hopkins added the exclamation point with an other-worldly dunk on an unsuspecting Matador defender. Although he missed the free throw, the dunk sent a wave of energy throughout the Save Mart Center.
“It felt good. It’s always a good feeling for me when I can play above ground a little bit,” Hopkins said of his in-game dunks. “It is a fast break play and I got an opportunity to dunk it, so I am going to dunk it when I get the chance to.”
Defensively, the ‘Dogs showcased their athletic ability throughout the contest. The team totaled seven blocks along with seven steals. Along with Hopkins’ 17 points and 10 rebounds, he contributed to the ‘Dogs steal totals with two, and guard Ray Bowles Jr. chipped in two of his own.
The defensive play by the guards helped hold the Matadors to only 46.3 percent shooting, Terry said.
“The one-on-one guard was big for us,” Terry said. “We knew that we were going to do a good job guarding their actions and make their guy take the shot on our terms and not on their terms.”
The Bulldogs interior defense played its part as well. Forward Nate Grimes led the game with five blocks. Grimes’ ability to size up his opponents proved critical after he took away 10 potential points from the Matadors.
The defensive effort the ‘Dogs showed on Monday is key for their title aspirations, Terry said.
“I think that is a good thing to show our guys that you can be really good on offense, but you need defense as well if you want to win some championships,” Terry said. “Our guys are working hard, and we are continuing to get better and better as it goes along in terms of getting consecutive stops and being more consistent defensively.”
The ‘Dogs improved to 31-4 overall at home since the start of the 2015-16 season. Fresno State faces its toughest challenge yet when the ‘Dogs travel to Arkansas Friday for a matchup with the Razorbacks.