Mountain West Preseason Player of the Year Marvelle Harris dribbles past a Pepperdine defender during the Bulldogs’ 69-66 win over the Waves Friday at Save Mart Center. (Darlene Wendels/The Collegian)
The Fresno State men’s basketball team ground out a tough one to come up with a 69-66 victory over Pepperdine Friday night on its home court.
“It was a really good team win tonight for our guys,” Fresno State head coach Rodney Terry said. “I thought our guys came out in the second half and were more engaged. They were talking and working the game. We came out and stole four possessions, which was huge. We came down and converted to finish a couple of plays against their zone. The guys really stayed together and worked the court.”
Pepperdine went into the half with a 38-30 lead and led once again by eight at 61-53 with 4:26 left in the game.
Twice the ‘Dogs were down eight points, and twice they found a way to dig out of those holes.
With the score 67-63 in the ‘Dogs’ favor, Pepperdine’s Jeremy Major drained a three to pull the Waves within a point.
But Fresno State would not give the game away as ‘Dogs Julien Lewis and Lionel Ellison would step up and both hit a free throw.
Ellison would also go on to seal the game with his fourth steal of the night.
Last year when the ‘Dogs trailed at the half, they had a losing record of 1-17.
It would be close throughout the night as the ‘Dogs struggled offensively in the first half, shooting 32 percent from the field with just 11-of-34 attempts falling through and just one-of-eight from 3-point range.
Fresno State finished 25-of-63 from the field and 2-of-17 from the 3-point line.
The ‘Dogs would also constantly struggle at the free-throw line hitting only 17-of-30 attempts from the charity stripe.
“That was just lack of concentration on our part,” senior guard Marvelle Harris said. “We practice free throws over and over. We all always have to make free throws before we leave practice, so we just have to step to the line and make a shot.”
To get the win, the ‘Dogs zoned in and put in a more focused defensive effort as their offense slowed.
As a team, the ‘Dogs had eight blocks and 15 steals on the night, and the Bulldog defense helped generate points with 17 points coming off of turnovers and 16 fast-break points.
Harris had 23 points on the night, and junior Torren Jones added 13 and cleaned the glass with 14 rebounds in his Bulldog debut.
“Everybody did their job tonight,” Harris said. “The people who were supposed to screen, screened. The people who were suppose to take the shots, took the shots. Everybody just played together, and we just played as a unit tonight.”
Under Terry’s five-year coaching reign, Fresno State is now 5-0 in home openers.