Fresno State senior point guard Cezar Guerrero had a team-high 22 points in the Bulldogs’ 78-71 win over San Francisco Thursday night at Save Mart Center. (Khone Saysamongdy/The Collegian)
Thursday night’s nonconference matchup between Fresno State and San Francisco featured two teams vying to stay undefeated.
But only the Bulldogs came out alive, taking down the USF Dons 78-71 in Game 2 of the Roundball Showcase to move to 3-0 and remain perfect.
“We’ve worked really hard in the offseason and here in the fall,” said fifth-year Fresno State head coach Rodney Terry. “Obviously we’re still working hard on our identity and what we want to stand for from a defensive and offensive standpoint.
“Our home crowd has been really good for us. They’ve been great. We’ve had great support over the three games here. Our band and our student section have been great and they’ve given our team a great lift to start the season.”
Fresno State got off to a hot start with senior point guard Cezar Guerrero hitting back-to-back 3-pointers to give the ‘Dogs a 6-0 lead in a game where they never trailed. Crisp ball movement and chemistry gave the ‘Dogs as much as an 8-0 lead in the opening minutes.
“I thought early on our guys did a great job of attacking the way we’ve talked about attacking,” Terry said. “They went to create not for themselves but for someone else. Marvelle [Harris] did a great job of that early – I know he had three or four assists early. He found Cezar a couple times there and just trusted his teammate. Again, this team has done that to this point right now and in terms of sharing the basketball they’ve done a really good job of that.”
After trailing by double digits for nearly the entire second half, San Francisco bounced back in the final minutes to get within eight points after a 3-point basket from forward Chase Foster.
USF used a full-court pressure, forcing the ‘Dogs into a couple of turnovers, which provided the Dons with a small window of opportunity for a comeback. Guerrero and Preseason Mountain West Player of the Year Marvelle Harris nailed crucial free throws in the final minute to distance themselves from USF and bring its comeback effort to a halt.
Guerrero and Harris also led the team in scoring with 22 and 16 points, respectively. Guerrero shot 7-of-13, including six 3-pointers while Harris connected on 5-of-11 shots.
“That’s what happens when you keep getting at it in the gym and just keep on shooting and trusting that your teammates will find you,” Guerrero said.
As a team, Fresno State sunk 24-of-60 shots (40 percent), just shy of San Francisco’s 41.5 shooting percentage.
Just before the half, senior guard Julien Lewis sunk a 3-pointer, beating the buzzer to give Fresno State a 10-point lead at intermission.
“Every night we’re a team that’s going to come in and try to guard really hard,” Terry said. “I’ve got guys that can score the ball. I don’t come in saying ‘we have to go in and make shots.’ We have to go in and defend, play hard and we’re going to find a way to score the basketball so we don’t really get caught up with whether our shots are going in or not going in.
“We’re going to keep playing the game, keep working the game. The best players in the world don’t make shots every night but I’d like to think that I have a pretty good shooting team.”