If the Fresno State men’s basketball team can keep shooting the way they did in their 63-43 win over the University of San Diego, they may be able to compete down the road with competition.
After a poor shooting performance from their role players in last Sunday’s loss against Cal – where the Bulldogs had 44.8% from the field, 31.6% from the 3 and averaged 12.2 turnover per game – Fresno State was able to correct those errors against the Toreros.
Fresno State men’s basketball team improved its offensive efficiency after a tough loss against Cal.
Head coach Justin Hutson called the ‘Dogs last matchup a “game of mistakes” on both ends of the floor. Cal showed Fresno State’s Achilles’ heel with poor shooting from the role players and an abundance of turnovers. Fresno State entered the game shooting an average of 44.8% from the field, 31.6% from the 3 and averaged 12.2 turnovers per game.
But Fresno State seemed to correct them in a 63-43 blowout win against San Diego on Wednesday at the Save Mart Center.
The ‘Dogs recorded a season-high in both field goal percentage of 51 and free throw percentage of 89.
“51%, I think we’re trying to play the game a little easier. We’re trying to play it out calm in the right way… We’re trying to make sure we hit the open man. Get the ball where it’s supposed to go,” Hutson said.
Although they finished with nine total turnovers, Hutson said how important it was to only have one the entire first half. He credited it to the team’s improvement in defense that got the offense going. Hutson also utilized different rotations as more bench players gained more minutes.
WIth Bulldog forward Orlando Robinson sitting by his side at the post-game press conference, the coach acknowledged him as a leader for the team defensively.
“This group here was young, and young and playing good defense don’t really go together. Those two things don’t match, and the effort, they’re trying to live by this young man sitting here in my right in his leadership and his effort,” Hutson said.
Robinson led the team in scoring with 15 points and also recorded five rebounds, five assists and three blocks. Since he didn’t have to score over 20 points like against Cal, Robinson was able to focus on defense and trust his team to carry the load on offense.
The 7-foot forward said it felt great when most of his teammates were able to score; from veteran players like Jordan Campbell as well as bench players like Donavan Yap, who saw more minutes this game.
“Seeing my teammates be aggressive when they need to be was really inspiring to me,” Robinson said. “My teammates got to know how to play off me and play without me. So I was kind of proud of those two people for doing what they needed to do in the situation.”
Campbell was second for the Bulldogs in scoring, recording 12 points and shooting 6-for-11 from the field. Hutson mixed new rotations against the Toreros, and he said Yap played longer because he liked the effort he was putting in defensively.
Although Yap statistics do not stand out with 4 points, he did play for 17 minutes because of the way he guarded San Diego guards who shoot well from the perimeter.
“I was impressed with Donavan tonight… I was excited for Donavan to how he was able to come in big minutes with the game on the line,” Hutson said.
In tipoff, San Diego was able to win the jump ball for first possession, but in their first drive to the basket, Robinson blocked the shot and Bulldog guard Isaiah Hill was able to draw a shooting foul in a fast break.
For the Toreros, forward Marcellus Earlington utilized a size mismatch to score a quick 5 points at the beginning of the first half, and guard Bryce Monroe had a heat streak with 8 points, shooting 3-for-4. But those two were the only ones able to get their shots up.
Fresno State did a good job taking away San Diego’s 3-points shooting as the Toreros shot 1-for-12 from beyond the arc and 17-for-45 from the field.
Offensively, Campbell fired back in the first half, making his first four shots from the game. It showed a lack of paint defense as all 10 of Campbell’s points in the first half were the same bank-shot floater from the left.
With Robinson also dominating the paint, the Bulldogs led into halftime, 33-20.
The second half saw more help from the bench to extend the lead. San Diego looked to make a comeback as they broke the double-digit lead, but Yap brought it right back fast-break layup that excited the crowd that built the ‘Dogs momentum with around 17 minutes left of the game.
With that energy, the ‘Dogs could do no wrong. A minute later, Bulldog guard Leo Colimerio drove to the basket for a flashy pass to Robinson in the paint. It looked to be another turnover as the ball was stripped, but Robinson recovered it and tried to pass it back to Colimerio. Another San Diego guard deflected that into the air, and Campbell picked it up for a putback layup. The crowd and the bench cheered for the lucky turn of events.
The peak of the ‘Dogs run came with highlight play of the game. It is again Fresno State’s Braxton Meah who performs another dunk highlight the crowd will remember. With around 13 minutes left of the game, Campbell missed a layup, but Meah jumped over a Torero guard and posterized him with a putback dunk.
San Diego had no response after that as Fresno State ran away with the win. The ‘Dogs will remain home as they face CSU Northridge on Saturday, Dec. 4, at 4 p.m.