FRESNO, Calif. – Fresno State used a 19-5 first-half run to pull away from Lamar University (2-1) Saturday afternoon and the Cardinals never fully recovered. Although Big Red pulled to within four points with less than eight minutes remaining, Fresno State pulled away late for the 83-64 victory.
The Cardinals finished the game 23-of-57 (.404) from the field but struggled to score in the opening half. LU knocked down just 9-of-31 (.290) attempts in the opening 20 minutes of action. The Red and White picked up the pace in the second half, converting 14-of-26 (.538) attempts but it wasn’t enough to slow down a Fresno squad that shot nearly 57 percent for the game.
The Cardinals made up for their struggles from the field in the previous game by forcing the opponent into numerous turnovers, mistakes the Bulldogs were able to prevent Saturday. Fresno State turned the ball over just 10 times against LU.
The Bulldogs (2-1) utilized their overwhelming size to their advantage in the low post. Led by Terrell Carter’s 6-10, 290-pound frame, the Bulldogs recorded a 10-point advantage in the paint (36-26). Carter was one of four Bulldogs to finish the day in double digits, led by Jaron Hopkins game-high 23 points.
The Cardinals were led by newcomers Colton Weisbrod and Cameron McGee. Weisbrod scored 10 points and pulled down six rebounds, while McGee added 10 points and three assists. McGee played well in reserve of juniors Torey Noel and Joey Frenchwood who were forced to the bench early in the second half with three fouls each.
“We looked a little sluggish out of the gate,” said LU head coach Tic Price. “We weren’t able to finish shots, and left a lot short. We struggled with their strength in the low post. Their size really caused us some problems. This has been a long trip for our guys, but the reason you play teams like this is to get better. Our goal now is to get home, watch the film and get ready for UTSA.”
The Cardinals struggled from the field in the opening half of action converting only six of their first 21 attempts (.286) but despite their first-half struggles LU held a four-point lead, 12-8, just over four minutes into the opening half. It was at that point when Fresno State’s Jahmel Taylor took over. The Los Angeles native sparked a 19-5 run to help FSU build a 31-17 advantage. He finished the game with 16 points on 4-of-6 shooting from beyond the arc.
The Cardinals didn’t roll over after the Fresno run, but responded with a 7-0 run of their own to cut the deficit down to seven points, but the Bulldogs answered with a 7-0 to close out half and take a 38-24 lead into the locker room.
The Cardinals made one final stab at the Bulldogs midway through the second half taking what was once a 14-point Fresno lead and cutting it down to only four with less than eight minutes remaining. After a Paul Watson dunk pushed the FSU lead to 11 points, the Cardinals responded a three-pointer from Frenchwood followed by four consecutive points from sophomore Josh Nzeakor (a basket and two free throws) trimming the deficit to 61-57 with 7:41 remaining. That would be as close as LU could get as their hosts responded with a 13-0 to pull away late in the contest.
The Cardinals return to action Tuesday when they host UTSA. The game against the Roadrunners will tip off at 7 p.m. from the Montagne Center.