Just four days after Fresno State’s worst performance of the season versus New Mexico, the Bulldogs bounced back with their most dominant game in an 85-63 victory over rival Nevada.
Fresno State has been notorious for its slow starts this season, but a Cezar Guerrero 3-pointer on the Bulldogs’ opening possession set the tone for a much different start than they were used to.
“When Cezar hit the 3-pointer to start the game, I think that was the first time we scored on the first possession all year,” forward Cullen Russo said. “We had a chance to get off to a good start and we did.”
The ‘Dogs followed with seven more consecutive points, including another Guerrero 3-ball, that gave them a 10-0 advantage over the Nevada Wolf Pack right out of the gates. It was 12 to nothing before Nevada first scored.
Marvelle Harris, Karachi Edo and Cullen Russo led the charge that kept extending the lead while Nevada struggled to find the bottom of the net. By the 8 minute mark in the first half, the Bulldogs had built an absurd 30-5 lead.
“We came back in and had to watch the tape from Saturday’s game and had to talk about the things we needed to fix as a team,” Fresno State Head Coach Rodney Terry said. “I thought the guys played with urgency tonight. We’re trying to emphasize to the guys that this time of year they have to play with urgency on every possession and I thought we set the tone with that tonight from the very beginning.”
Of the Wolf Pack’s five points, four were putbacks on offensive rebounds and one was a free throw. It took over 12 minutes for Nevada to score on it’s first shot of a possession. The Bulldogs’ pace was not sustainable, but the ‘Dogs held on to a 17-point advantage at halftime - a 44-27 lead.
Nevada hoped to strike back early in the second half, but with the deficit at 15 points the Bulldogs surged for another big run. Four different Bulldogs scored on five consecutive possessions and then Russo put the exclamation point on the 13-3 run with a fastbreak dunk.
Fresno State coasted the rest of the way to an 85-63 win.
The Bulldogs shot 53 percent from the field and made 6 of 10 3-pointers. Harris led with 18 points, 7 assists and 7 rebounds. Edo, Guerrero and Russo all finished in double figures.
Marqueze Coleman led Nevada with 22 points and 6 rebounds. He leads the Mountain West in points per game in conference play so far.
Rotational notes: The box score from Wednesday’s game looks slightly different than usual, but it wasn’t due to the blowout victory. The Bulldogs expected a hard-fought rivalry game as usual with the Pack and started Terrell Carter at center over Torren Jones. Carter had combined for only six combined minutes in the first two conference games. Washington transfer Jahmel Taylor also got the call off the bench over reserve point guard Lionel Ellison. Taylor first became eligible at the end of the semester for the Bulldogs’ Dec. 27 game versus Pacific Union. Ellison has played in all but two games at 17 minutes per appearance. Terry said the moves were situational for the matchup.
Fresno State improves to 11-5 on the season and 2-1 in Mountain West play. That puts the Bulldogs in fourth place in the conference, behind San Diego State, Boise State and New Mexico who are all unbeaten.
The Bulldogs will head to Boise State on Saturday to take on the Broncos at 3 p.m. PT.