Fresno State used a 12-0 run late in the first half to build a 40-24 lead that turned an early up-and-down contest into a runaway win for the Bulldogs. Again, their pressure defense was catalyst for offensive fireworks as the ‘Dogs recorded 18 assists compared to just nine turnovers while forcing Hawaii into 15 first half turnovers.
“They really came out and attack us early,” Fresno State head coach Steve Cleveland said. “We played a lot of zone so people have a lot of zone film. Hawaii did a good job attacking the short corner [in the first half]. We started trapping that a little bit. I thought the pressure in full court and half court in zone was good and created turnovers and easy opportunities to score.
“The last two to three weeks we’ve been trying to work more on our speed game and more in transition, where we’re taking opportunities to score more in the first eight to 10 seconds. We were very unselfish with the ball.”
The ‘Dogs built the lead to as much as 24 in the second half, but it never dipped below 16 until the final minute of the game. Steven Shepp played arguably his most complete game since scoring 17 points at Pepperdine on Dec. 8. He scored 12 points, including 2-of-4 from three, while dishing five assists, most notably a fast break, second-half pass off the glass to a trailing Mychal Ladd who dunked it. But he did have three turnovers, something Cleveland remarked after the game in the post game press conference.
Paul George continued where he left off in the final minutes of last Saturday’s win over Boise State. The sophomore scored 21 points and added to WAC-leading 40 steals with four more against the Warriors. More importantly, he had only one turnover. Sylvester Seay added 17 points.
Jeremy Lay led Hawaii with 14 points, including seven of the Warriors first 24 points when the game was still doubt with 9:37 left to play in the first half.
Fresno State next hosts San Jose State on Monday at 7 p.m. PT. The Spartans lost 96-67 at Nevada on Saturday night.
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