San Francisco State came in with a clock control approach to counter the size advantage of the Fresno State frontline and the game plan worked well. By limiting possessions for the Bulldogs, the Gators were able to control the first half tempo and frustrate the Bulldogs on the offensive end.
Paul George led the Bulldogs early scoring the teams first eight points to provide the ‘Dogs with their only offense in the first eight minutes, a stretch where the Bulldogs were stagnant offensively, careless with the basketball, and was unable to find any kind of rhythm.
SFSU was able to get into the lane with their smaller three guard lineup and also was able to hit four 3-pointers by four different players. Brandon Sperling’s driving basket with two seconds remaining cut the Gators lead to 32-31 at the half. Paul George led all scorers at the half with 12 points, including 8-of-8 from the free throw line.
The second half opened with the Bulldogs showing much more intensity on the defensive end and it paid off immediately. Fresno State opened the half on a 12-0 run, highlighted by a Paul George breakaway windmill dunk that had them race out to a 43-32 lead in under four minutes.
The Bulldogs were able to mix in the zone defensively and cause some problems for the smaller Gators, holding them to 27% shooting in the second half. The Gators will able to stay in the game despite their poor shooting due to careless basketball on the offensive end by the Bulldogs to the tune of 11 second half turnovers.
After cutting the FS lead to 54-50 with 7:30 remaining on three free throws by Marquel Hoskins, the Gators never trailed by more than six points over the final seven minutes, and the Bulldogs were under pressure the entire final stretch of the game. The Bulldogs were able to hold off the Gators with solid perimeter defense and sophomore guard Sperling making 3-of-4 from the line.
Paul George’s 19 points and eight rebounds, Greg Smith’s 17 points, 12 of them in the second half along with his 10 rebounds and 5 blocks, led the Bulldogs. No other Bulldogs were in double figures but sophomore Mike Ladd had five assists and only one turnover.
The Bulldogs shot 45% from the field for the game and had 16 turnovers. Marquel Hoskins 18 points and eight assists led SFSU. Phoenix O’ Rourke and Jeremy Francis chipped in 15 and 10 respectively.
Coach Steve Cleveland postgame quotes:
“We came out with a lack of energy and discipline in the first half.”
“SFSU did a great job controlling tempo in this game.”
“Our guys played with a better purpose in the second half.”
“I expect a lot out of our returners and they must lead the way for our younger guys.”
“We were a step slow defensively and out of position the entire first half.”
“Shepp and Brandon will play a lot together, Shepp at the 1 Brandon at the 2.”
“Tonight was really a maturity issue and we need to play with a better purpose to open games.”
The Bulldogs return to play on Tuesday in Flagstaff to play the Northern Arizona Lumberjacks in the West Coast Classic. Tip-off is set for 5:35 p.m. PT.
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