In the first two minutes of the second half, Fresno State guard Jordan Campbell was substituted out, and the crowd cheered in excitement as Fresno native Deon Stroud checked in for the first time this season.
Forward Orlando Robinson was dominating the paint in the first half with 15 points, but the ‘Dogs could not extend their lead into double digits. It was a back-and-forth matchup, so Stroud was the extra offensive firepower
Stroud and Robinson were key in Fresno State’s 69-62 victory against Idaho on Monday at Save Mart Center.
Stroud ended the game with 13 points and also made over half his shots.
“Having Deon back is a great reliever. I mean we practice all summer together, so having him back on the team was just great,” Robinson said.
It took a couple of minutes for Stroud to shake off the rust in the second half. He had his first shot attempt blocked, was called for a foul and then missed his first free throw. But Stroud heated up halfway through the half as he hit a step-back jumper from the key.
He jumped over a Vandal defender for the shot and got the and-one call.
The team fed off the energy as Robinson caught an alley-oop pass to dunk the ball in the next play. Idaho tried to retaliate with a 3-pointer, but Stroud answered back with one of his own.
The duo would have the play of the game as Robinson caught an offensive rebound, passed it to Stroud and then, Stroud passed it to Leo Colimerio for a dunk, forcing an Idaho timeout.
Head coach Justin Hutson said Stroud still needs to get into game shape, but he acknowledged the junior guard’s talent as a natural scorer.
“It was not surprising that when the lights come on and he shoots it, he has a good chance of making it. He’s become a better defender. He’s become a better rebounder,” Hutson said.
Robinson led the way in scoring. Robinson had another double-double with 27 points, 10 rebounds and shooting over 50% from the field.
At tipoff, both teams came in aggressive and started firing on offense. In Idaho’s first possession, Fresno State fouled from the 3-point line, so the Vandals’ first three points were free throws.
Robinson put points on the board for the ‘Dogs with a layup. Vandals answered with a post hook, but Campbell brought the energy with a dunk by cutting from the wing. That cut Idaho’s momentum, and Robinson capitalized with back-to-back buckets.
It looked like Fresno State could have taken a good lead, but throughout the game, Idaho found a way to come back. With 13 minutes left of the first half, the Vandals tied the game again at 12-12.
The ‘Dogs went on another run and led by nine points, but in the last two minutes of the half, the Vandals cut the lead 31-26.
In the second half, it looked to be a close match the entire game, but after Stroud and Robinson found their rhythm, the ‘Dogs finally broke their lead into double digits in the final minutes of the game.
It was too late for Idaho to have any comeback, and Fresno State was successful against its first Division 1 team, winning 69-62.