Cal Poly, facing a zone, the Fresno State Bulldogs had no trouble with any of it on Saturday, their efficiency in a 73-59 men’s basketball victory at the Save Mart Center bordering on the absurd.
The Bulldogs hit 58.8 percent of their shots, 70.8 percent in the second half when they pushed a lead to 26 points with 9:01 to go, all of it punctuated by a breakaway, between-the-legs dunk by Cullen Russo. Making the shooting percentage all the more amazing, Fresno State missed eight shots in the paint including five layups in the first half.
Up 30-23 at the half, Fresno State (6-3) came out and hit nine of its first 10 shots, the first two by point guard Jaron Hopkins on a short jumper and a drive. Paul Watson then knocked down a 3-pointer, Russo got free and dunked, Terrell Carter II scored in the paint and Jahmel Taylor hit a three, part of a 6-of-6 afternoon including 5 of 5 on 3-pointers.
With Watson rendering Kyle Toth, the Mustangs’ leading scorer, irrelevant to the proceedings, Cal Poly (5-5) couldn’t keep up.
The 6-foot-2 Toth, shadowed by the longer 6-7 Watson, got off only two shots.
Taylor led the Bulldogs with 17 points, Watson had 13, Russo 12 and Hopkins and Carter both added 10.
Stat of the game – The Bulldogs’ starters – Watson, Williams, Carter, Hopkins and Taylor – hit 23 of 37 shots (62.2 percent) including 8 of 14 at the 3-point line (57.1 percent) and had 14 assists.
Quotable – Terry: “I thought our approach from the very beginning today, when we came into this building this morning for our shoot-around and our walk-through stuff, I thought it was probably the best we’ve had all years in terms of the approach. I think in the locker room prior to the game, it was probably the best we’ve had in terms of focus and we saw the results of that during the game.”
Notable – Toth came in hitting 54.7 percent of his 3-point shots, eighth-best in the nation. He couldn’t get loose against Watson and the Bulldogs, getting one jump shot and one shot in transition.
Watson shadowed him everywhere, denying the ball.
“That was the approach, starting two days ago,” Watson said. “Coach was harping on No. 13, that he was a big-time shooter. Right away, he said, we’re just going to take him out. I just worked on it in practice the past two days and it translated into the game.”
Laughable – Terry was called for a technical after Carter was called for an offensive foul under the basket with 5:30 to go. Terry, showing some degree of athleticism, kicked so wildly that he lost a shoe, his brown Salvatore Ferragamo ending up at mid-court.
“The last time that shoe came off like that we were at Stanford – broke the buckle,” Terry said. “It’s funny, I was talking to (former Texas player and current Bulldogs assistant coach) Kenton Paulino when we were coming in here. I’ve had these shoes for almost 14 years, and I said I coached you in these shoes, so I know there are a lot of wins in these shoes. Ferragamos … some re-soled Ferragamos.”
Notable, part II – About 35 minutes before the game, toward the end of the Bulldogs’ warmup, Taylor was at mid-court and fired the ball underhand at the basket. He made it, all net. Then, he made another off the backboard. Underhand. From about 50 feet.
Coming up – Terry for five years has said he wants the Bulldogs to be playing their best basketball in February and March, so what is this now? In their past three halves of basketball, the Bulldogs have hit 49 of 81 shots (60.5 percent) including 16 of 29 at the 3-point line (55.2 percent) with 31 assists.
Robert Kuwada: @rkuwada
FRESNO STATE VS. HOLY NAMES
- Wednesday: 7 p.m. at Save Mart Center (15,544)
- Records: Bulldogs 6-3, Hawks 1-8
- Radio: KFIG (AM 940), KGST (AM 1600)
- Of note: Holy Names is an NCAA Division I I team. The Hawks play Academy of Art on Sunday, but have struggled this season. Their lone victory is over Cal State Monterey Bay, and four losses have come by five points or fewer.