Coming off a strong performance on Tuesday, Fresno State guard Jordan Campbell did it again Friday night and displayed flashes of the potential head coach Justin Hutson saw over the offseason.
Campbell, now in his third season, said the difference with his game is taking it easy and letting the game go to him.
After the ‘Dogs caught a rebound off a missed Shark 3-pointer, guard Anthony Holland found Campbell in the corner for a 3. His offensive impact was on all ends of the flow. Campbell followed that up a couple of plays later with an assist to Jemarl Baker.
The next play after that, Baker returned the favor with an assist to Campbell for a layup of his own. Campbell was substituted out to rest, but a couple of minutes later he came back to make another 3-pointer for the ‘Dogs.
Campbell led his team to an 84-60 victory over LIU Friday night at the Save Mart Center.
After adding another layup to the stat sheet, Campbell had the highlight of the game with an alley-oop pass to center Braxton Meah on the post. Campbell would finish the game with 15 points, shooting 3-for-6 from 3 and 6-for-11 overall.
It could arguably be the second straight game Campbell had a show-stealing moment, as on Wednesday night against Fresno Pacific, he had the fans and the Bulldogs’ bench electrified with a poster dunk on two Sunbirds.
But on Friday, he showed his offensive range beyond driving in with his athleticism.
“People are scared of my first step, so they just let me shoot it,” Campbell said. “They don’t want to run me off and give me any angles, so I just had to slow down, take a deep breath and shoot the ball.
Head coach Justin Hutson mentioned how this is Campbell’s first full summer with the team.
After playing the 2018 fall semester for Oregon State, he transferred to Fresno State and was thrown into game speed the following semester. His second season in a ‘Dogs’ uniform was cut short due to the COVID-19 pandemic, so Hutson said he’s not surprised with his improvement because he did so much under those circumstances.
Beyond scoring, Campbell also had 7 rebounds and 3 assists to finish the game.
“My goal on the team is try to do a little of everything,” Campbell said. “So I feel like I’m slowly trying to step into that role and get better at it game-by-game because that’s what my team needs to win.”
The Sharks won the jump-ball to start the game. In its first possession, LIU missed its first shot attempt from the 3-point line. Fresno State also missed its first 3-pointer in the next play. After Campbell made the first shot of the game, LIU responded immediately with an and-one layup, also converting the free throw.
It looked like it was going to be a back-and-forth matchup, but the ‘Dogs went on a 19-3 run. This would be the biggest lead of the game as a 3-pointer from Campbell would make it 22-6 with about 10 minutes left in the first half.
But defensively, the Fresno State 2-3 zone was falling apart as LIU started cutting the lead. It was shown with the top scorers for the Sharks, forward Tyrn Flowers and Eral Penn. They collapsed the zone through pick-and-rolls, and when the bigs for the ‘Dogs didn’t step up beyond the arc, the Sharks made them pay with 3-pointers.
Flowers finished with 26 points, shooting 6-of-14 from the 3-point line and 10-of-20 overall. Penn ended the game with 15 points, shooting 4-for-8 from 3.
“Obviously, we were disappointed in the big lead that we had and we let go,” Hutson said. “Right? But give them hats off too. They made some tough shots.”
Hutson was clearly frustrated and vocal about it when the ‘Dogs were messing up. From the bench, his aggressive coaching style was heard when players were not in the right position, and when the team couldn’t run a play successfully, Hutson pushed his players to figure it out.
By the end of the first half, LIU cut the lead to seven, with Fresno State leading 41-34. Fresno State cleaned up its defense in the second half. The Bulldogs started moving the ball around and finding the open man.
During the first play of the second half, Fresno State continually swung the ball around looking for its best option until the ball landed in the hands of Holland for a 3-pointer.
The Sharks still fought back with their shooting, but the team involvement was nowhere compared to the ‘Dogs. Fresno State ended the game with 15 assists total while LIU finished with 5.
Bulldog forward Orlando Robinson and Isaiah Hill took control of the offense. After the made 3 from Holland, Robinson caught the rebound from an LIU miss, and then, on the other end of the court, finished with a layup.
The Sharks were forced to foul him in the post on most possessions due to his size and strength. In the next play for Fresno State, Robinson was fouled and made both free throws, increasing their lead to 46-34 with about 20 minutes left in the game.
Fresno State locked down LIU as the Sharks remained scoreless the first three minutes of the second half.
Robinson scored again after getting an offensive rebound, and Hill capitalized off a Bulldog steal with a 3-pointer in transition.
Robinson was the top scorer for the Bulldogs with 17 points. He also got a double-double by dominating the boards with a career-high 18 rebounds. Hill tied Campbell with the second-most points for the ‘Dogs at 15. Hill also had three assists, two rebounds and shot 50% from the field.
With the starters performing in the second half efficiently, LIU could not handle the offensive power paired with lockdown defense. The largest lead the ‘Dogs had in the second was 73-49 after a free throw from Holland with about eight and a half minutes left.
“Coming out of the second half, I couldn’t be more proud of those five guys that were out, and it takes the whole team, but those five guys got to set the tone,” Hutson said, talking about the starting five.
Fresno State did not stop fighting until the clock ran out in an 84-60 victory. It will host the Idaho Vandals at the Save Mart Center on Monday at 7 p.m.