The UC Irvine Anteaters trailed by one point as guard Alex Young sized up the Bulldogs, looking to hit the game winning shot. Young began to drive, stepped back behind the three point line where he found himself all alone, and sank the three with two seconds remaining. Tyler Johnson then inbounded to Allen Huddleston who crossed the half court line and banked in the game winning shot from just inside 40 feet away from the hoop.
Fresno State needed two three pointers in the final 36 seconds of regulation just to force overtime. Cezar Guerrero and Marvelle Harris each made one from beyond the arc, and Fresno State forced one more stop on the final possession of regulation to force an extra five minutes of play.
Fresno State trailed this one by 10 at halftime, and by as many as 12 in the second half. A 9-0 run midway through the second half put the Bulldogs within one possession, and the Bulldogs hot shooting never went cold.
Marvelle Harris led the hot shooting night with 30 points on 10-of-15 shooting from the field. Fellow underclassmen Cezar Guerrero and Paul Watson added 23 and 18 points respectively.
The Bulldogs needed a hot shooting night from outside against a much bigger UC Irvine team. With 7-foot-6 center Mamadou Ndiaye clogging the paint and 6-foot-8 Will Davis II grabbing 16 rebounds, the Anteaters finished with 16 total offensive rebounds for 23 second chance points.
New Look Bulldogs?
Friday’s season opener was like nothing that Fresno State experienced all of last year.
Fresno State surpassed 68 total points just five times all of last season, three of them against Division I opponents. Their highest point total against Division I competition was 78 points at UCLA. In Friday's 2013-2014 season opener, the Bulldogs surpassed that mark with time to spare, scoring 85 points in regulation.
The Bulldogs shot 39% from the field last season, better than just 14 Division I teams. On Friday night, the Bulldogs shot 51.6% from the field and 46.6% from three-point range (14-30).
The Bulldogs spent most of Friday’s game in a smaller lineup, one that they flourished in offensively. The one-through-four positions in the Fresno State starting lineup combined for 84 of the team’s 98 total points.
Fresno State may not have the size they expected this year, but the Bulldogs had the pieces to push the tempo and light up the scoreboard at UC Irvine. The Anteaters were the preseason favorite to win the Big West after coming off a 21 win season which included only one home loss, to LSU.
The Bulldogs will head to Pittsburgh next to take on a Panthers team coming off a 24-9 season. Tip off is Tuesday, Nov 12 at 4 pm PST.