SANTA BARBARA, CA -- The Fresno State Bulldogs met old Big West foe UCSB in the Thunderdome on…
Fresno State opened the game with four quick points from junior guard Tim Steed. The momentum did not last long, however, as Vanguard managed to play even with the Bulldogs for the next 16 minutes of the first half. With a 21-17 lead, Fresno State went on a 13-5 run, capped off by Bennie Rhode's put-back dunk to end the half. The Bulldogs had good shot selection, leading to a 50% shooting percentage from the field in the first half.
Fresno State picked up right where it left off in the first half, outscoring Vanguard 10-4, and extending its lead to 18. Vanguard kept it competitive until the 10-minute mark, after Chris Pynch's free throw cut the lead to 12.
Bennie Rhodes and freshman Tyler Johnson led a run that would seal the game late. The two combined to score 13 straight points that pushed the lead to 23. It was part of a 26-6 run to finish the game as the ‘Dogs kept their foot on the pedal.
Again, Fresno State struggled shooting the ball, making 2-of-7 from the three-point line, and making just 8-of-16 from the free throw line. The most pressing stat is 56 of the Bulldogs' 74 points came from inside the paint. Due to good shot selection and 33 fast break points, Fresno State finished with a 55% clip from the field. Vanguard shot just 25%.
"People are going to have to understand that if you don't guard, don't rebound, and you don't block out; you're going to watch someone else play," said Fresno State head coach Steve Cleveland.
"We had three of four guys do it, that's why they were playing, and that's why it went from a 10-point lead to a 30-point lead."
Bennie Rhodes led the team in points and rebounds with 17 points and eight rebounds. Garret Johnson added 11 points. Tyler Johnson was the only other Bulldog in double-figures with 10 points. Center Greg Smith once again struggled to get open looks, taking just three shots from the field, and scoring four points.
The Fresno State Bulldogs travel to UC Santa Barbara on Saturday. Tip-off is at 7:00 pm. The Bulldogs lost to UC Santa Barbara 64-60 last season.
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