The Fresno State men's basketball team rode a 59% first-half shooting performance to a 14-point halftime lead and kept it up in the second 20 minutes Tuesday night, beating Cal State Bakersfield 79-68 in front of an announced crowd of 7,607 at the Save Mart Center.
Guard Mike Ladd and center Greg Smith led the Bulldogs with 17 points apiece as the Bulldogs snapped a three-game losing streak. Forward Paul George followed up with 16 points and a career-high seven assists. Freshman guard Stephon Carter led the Roadrunners with 13 points.
With the nonconference win, the Bulldogs are 14-15. Bakersfield drops to 7-20.
The Bulldogs shot well from the start, jumping out to a 10-2 lead. The Bulldogs led 26-13 with 11 minutes, 4 seconds to go in the first half, but the Roadrunners were able to trim it to 31-25 with 7:07 to play.
Fresno State reasserted itself, though. The defense forced four turnovers and the Roadrunners, who shot 36.9% in the game, went 3 of 9 from the field in that time as the Bulldogs went into halftime up 47-33.
That's tied for the most points the Bulldogs have scored in the first half this season. They also scored 47 in a 78-64 home win against Hawaii.
The Bulldogs cooled off in the second half, finishing at 49% shooting for the game.
"We were very patient with the ball," coach Steve Cleveland said. "We made the extra pass and we threw the ball inside. And when we did, they packed it in and we had open 3s. It was very, very good, unselfish basketball.
"We hit shots, and that helps everything look better when the ball goes into the hole."
The Roadrunners trimmed the deficit to eight with 9:46 to play, but the Bulldogs stretched it back to 16 with 7:37 left.
With 6:57 to play, George rose up and powered down a tomahawk jam that livened the crowd and gave Fresno State a 70-54 lead.
It was evidence that his midseason ankle injury, which cost him three weeks, is now behind him.
"This last practice is when I noticed I was able to explode and able to cut with explosiveness and able to plant and move," he said. "That's when I really noticed that it's pain free."
It was good for the Bulldogs to get a win headed into the final three games of their Western Athletic Conference season. They next play at San Jose State on Saturday.
Said Cleveland: "Because of our inconsistent play at times, it's easy to lose your confidence. It was good that we took advantage of this situation."
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