Fresno State head coach Rodney Terry prefers a balanced scoring attack but he must breathe easier when his leading scorer drops 32 in a much-needed win.
“I think we are at our best when we have balanced scoring,” said Terry. “I would like to see four or five guys in double figures. When we have four, five guys in double figures, and guys executing, I think we are pretty good.”
And the Bulldogs had just that on Saturday.
Kevin Olekaibe led the way with the career-high 32 points but Kevin Foster added a few career highs as well with 19 points and 14 rebounds. Tyler Johnson and Steven Shepp both added 10 points and seven assists to complete the balanced attack in their first WAC win over San Jose State.
“We don’t put any pressure on Kevin,” added Terry. “He gets his shots within the offense, and if he’s feeling well, he knows we have a number of different sets we can call for him. There’s never a chance he has to take a bad shot. Tonight, I thought he stepped into his shots…more than that he did a great job with his mid-range game.”
Feeling well also can explain Olekaibe’s status after suffering a few minor injuries over the last month. He looked his healthiest versus the Spartans since December when he was averaging over 21 points per game.
“I would say so,” Olekaibe said about feeling his best physically on Saturday night. “Coach Terry always tells me it’s always mental and fight back. Fighters fight back and don’t let anything dictate their play.”
SJSU never seriously threaten the Bulldogs, but their 57.9% clip from beyond the arc made things interesting. The Spartans got within six points just once in the second half with 1:51 remaining but the ‘Dogs nailed 20-24 free throw shots down the stretch to keep the Spartans at bay. Fresno State went the final 8:26 of the game without a made field goal.
“Probably his most impressive stat,” Terry said referring to Olekaibe hitting 8-of-10 free throws.
Will Carter scored 20 points, including 4-of-5 from the three-point line, for the Spartans.
SJSU took its largest lead, 9-6, at the 17:32 mark of the first half before FS went on a 21-1 run to break open the game.
The Bulldogs led by as many as 19 in the first half, but an 16-4 Spartan run made it a 38-31 at the break.
Fresno State improves to 8-11 on the season, 1-3 in WAC play. SJSU drops to 6-11, 0-3 in WAC. The Bulldogs take a break from the WAC hosting Cal State San Marcos on Wednesday night. Tip off is set for 7 p.m.
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