Fresno State won its opener, gaining some separation at the start of the second half when much more efficient at the offensive end and holding off Texas-San Antonio 69-66 on Friday a Save Mart Center.
The Bulldogs hit 34.6 percent of their shots and scored .778 points per possession in the first 20 minutes. But they worked for better shots, shared the ball and were at 55.6 and 1.278 in opening up a 15-point lead midway through the second half, coming close at least to a defensive effort that would have been more solid had they been able to close out some UTSA possessions.
The Roadruners, 5-27 a year ago, outrebounded the Bulldogs by a 55-30 margin and had 25 offensive rebounds. Texas-San Antonio scored 25 second-chance points.
Senior Cullen Russo led the Bulldogs with 23 points and 10 rebounds. Paul Watson added 17 points and four rebounds.
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Stat of the game – Texas-San Antonio hit 11 of 23 free throws, 47.8 percent. The Roadrunners lost by three points.
Quotable – Fresno State coach Rodney Terry: "When you have a team down and ready to be done, you have to go ahead and finish the game. We have a lot of new guys that we're going to have to continue to bring up to speed and understand what that means and being able to close out a game. A game can't be just a pickup game. It's not a pickup game. We're here to finish plays, finish possessions."
Notable – In scoring 17 points, Watson became the 32nd player in school history to reach 1,000. He now has 1,001.
Really, Fresno? – The Bulldogs are coming off their first NCAA Tournament appearance since 2001, but attendance at Save Mart Center was 6,088. A year ago, they drew 7,827 for their home opener.
More on this later – The Bulldogs were outrebounded by a 55-30 margin and gave up 25 offensive rebounds to a team that a year ago was a minus-3.0 in rebounding margin and averaged 10.2 offensive rebounds per game.
Robert Kuwada: @rkuwada