The young, up-and-coming players on the Fresno State bench were the stars in Wednesday night’s Basketball Classic quarterfinal match against Youngstown State. The different faces on the floor helped strengthen Fresno State to an 80-71 victory, taking them to the semifinals.
Bench production was the key to the Bulldogs’ 41-8 victory over the Penguins.
A trio of sophomores consisting of guards Donavan Yap and Destin Whitaker, and Braxton Meah at 1.5 feet, all had the highest levels of the season in double-digit numbers.
“I knew we would have some kids to play a few minutes and I even told them we were sure of what we could do. “Sometimes you saw some very good games and, like our other kids on the team, you saw some inexperience or some games we don’t like,” said head coach Justin Hutson.
The usual Bulldog key player, Anthony Holland, was ruled out before the game due to injury, giving the other players the opportunity to play important roles in the game.
“Anthony pulled his back to see how Jordan is [Campbell] he pulled a muscle in his ribs, so he was in a kind of restraint. “I did not want to play him much, but you know we will see what tomorrow will be like,” Hutson said.
With Holland on the sidelines, the Bulldogs started with the usual four starters and added Deon Stroud to take Holland’s place.
The game started with another slow start for the “Dogs” as they lost 9-2 at 14:43 at the end of the first half.
Fresno State quickly eliminated that deficit after making their own 9-0 run led by Whitaker, Yap and Meah, making it 11-9 with just under 12 minutes to go.
The Penguins were able to lead 32-28 in free throws by Dwayne Kochil with 1:39 remaining until halftime.
The Bulldogs were then able to make a two-point deficit by going into the locker room after a Stroud jump, making it 34-32 at halftime.
Yap was the surprise leader in the first half for the Dogs, scoring 10 points in 3-of-6 shots from the field and 2-5-5 from the city center, also adding a steal and an assist.
Fresno State shot the ball well in the first half, shooting 41% at 11-of-27 from the court, but found it difficult to shoot over the crossbar, shooting 21% at 4-of-19.
The Dogs ‘bench dominated the Penguins’ bench 21-6 in the first half, with Meah contributing eight of those points to the 3-of-3 from the floor.
Cohill was the Penguins’ top scorer in the first half with 15 points, also adding four assists and three rebounds.
The second half started with Youngstown State going to a 5-0 run pushing its 47-37g lead.
The great Orlando Robinson responded with a series of 8-0 on his own, achieving a free throw, two lay-ups and a three-pointer all in three minutes. Draw at 51 with 10 minutes left.
The Bulldogs then started a 12-0 run with two three-pointers from Whitaker, who wowed the crowd when he stuck out his tongue in his second three-pointer as he returned to defense.
“We have a huge, tremendous confidence that he can shoot if he gets a bunch of them,” Hutson said.
After taking the lead, Fresno State reduced Youngstown State to a 5-point deficit for the remainder of the game.
After a slow first half with 4 points, Robinson led the team to scoring, finishing with 16 points 4 to 11 from the field and 1 to 3 from the city center. He also got 13 boards, adding three assists and one steal.
After 10 points in the first half, Yap finished the game with 13 points in 3-of-7 from the floor and 2-of-5 over the arc.
Meah and Whitaker were the top two scorers behind Robinson with 14 points each, Whitaker went 5 to 9 from the field and 4 to 7 from downtown. Meah went 6 of 6 from the field and 2 of 3 from the free throw line, adding five rebounds and one block as well.
Meah and Robinson form the duo when they are together on the floor, which is a very difficult lineup for other teams to face low in a zone defense.
“When they play band, Orlando and Braxton have a very good relationship with each other and the relationship they have with each other you saw tonight in zone one three one and zone two three they played. “And Braxton played probably his best game on either side,” Hutson said.
Cohill did what he could for the Penguins, scoring 26 points, 8 assists and six rebounds.
The Bulldogs shot fairly well overall for the night, shooting 50% in 27-of-54 from the field and improving to 32% in 9-of-28 from the center compared to 21% in the first half.
Fresno State advance to a semifinal match at the Save Mart Center against Southern Utah on Monday, March 28th.
Bulldog’s bench erase second-half deficit, moving them to semifinals Source link Bulldog’s bench erase second-half deficit, moving them to semifinals