Hopkins career-high 29 leads Bulldogs to victory


Courtesy: Fresno State Media Relations

FRESNO, Calif. --- The Fresno State men's basketball team defeated the Weber State Wildcats 83-71 in wire-to-wire fashion on Thursday evening inside the Save Mart Center.

Fresno State (5-2) is now sporting a seven-game home winning streak and will travel to play at Long Beach State on Saturday before returning home to face CSU Bakersfield on Tuesday night.

Fresno State senior guard Jaron Hopkins had a career-high 29 points and seven steals with five rebounds and four assists as the Bulldogs cruised to the dominant non-conference victory.

How it happened: The Bulldogs opened the game on a 20-4 run in the first six and a half minutes and continued to outplay the Wildcats in nearly every facet of the game throughout the contest.

The Bulldogs owned the paint - outscoring the Wildcats 46-22 inside and recording 22 points off of 21 WSU turnovers, including 15 steals by Fresno State, who led by as many as 25 points in the second half.

Hopkins, who recorded his career-high 29 points on 11-for-16 shooting, also had a 4-to-2 assist-to-turnover ratio. Bulldogs' junior guard Deshon Taylor added 18 points, with 10 made free throws, to go with three steals, two assists and a career-high two blocks, while Sam Bittner tallied nine points on three made 3-pointers, a season-high four assists (no turnovers) and a career-high three steals for the 'Dogs.

This was the fourth time this season Fresno State made at least 50 percent of its field goal attempts.

Player Notes
Jaron Hopkins - 29 points, 5 rebounds, 7 steals, 4 assists
The senior guard scored a career-high 29 points ... scored in double-figures for the third time this season and 29th time in his career ... logged a career-high seven steals ... made a career-high seven free throws ... had a strong defensive game with five defensive rebounds and seven steals ... has recorded at least one steal in six games this season.

Deshon Taylor - 18 points, 2 assists, 2 blocks, 3 steals
The junior guard scored in double-figures for the for the seventh time this season and 23rd time in his career ... had career-high three blocks ... was 10-for-13 from the free throw line ... has made 10 or more free throws in three games this season.

Bryson Williams - 12 points, 8 rebounds, 1 assist
The sophomore forward scored in double-figures sixth time this season and 18th time in his career ... was 2-for-2 from the free throw line.

Ray Bowles, Jr. - 11 points, 3 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 steal
The senior guard scored in double-figures for the third time this season ... tied his season-high with two 3-pointers ... has recorded at least one assist in all seven games this season.

Team Notes

  • Fresno State improved to 44-7 overall at home since the start of the 2014-15 season, including a 22-3 record against nonconference opponents in that stretch.
  • Fresno State also improved to 33-4 overall at home since the start of the 2015-16 season.
  • Fresno State has now won eight consecutive non-conference home games.
  • Fresno State has now won seven straight home games and 16 of its last 17 home games.
  • Fresno State has now scored 80 or more points four times this season.
  • Fresno State improved to 26-2 in its last 28 games when scoring 80 or more points.
  • Fresno State had a season-high 15 steals.
  • The Bulldogs outscored their opponents in the paint for the fifth time this season.
  • The Bulldogs outrebounded their opponents for the sixth time this season.

Head Coach Rodney Terry on starting the game on a high note...

"We knew early on that we needed to set the tone. We were going up against a really good and confident team who likes to shoot the basketball. We knew we needed to come out and try to do a really good job on that end of the floor, more so than on the offensive end. We knew if we were able to do that, it would allow us to play to our strength."

On Jaron Hopkins...
"He has been working his way back around. The thing that I have really tried to challenge him with at this time of year is getting our unit up to the pace that we want to play with; in transition, on the offensive end and stay engaged defensively. I push him to condition himself to be able to stay on the floor and play hard without fouling. I am excited with the way he carried himself tonight. I have been pretty hard on him because our expectations are really high in terms of being a good two-way player for us. We ask him to do a lot for us and there are a lot of expectations of him. Tonight he played like the guy who he was last year for us; he was a guy who was attacking in transition, playing confident and playing with some swag."

On keeping the pace of the game throughout...
"Just like any team, they have to be able to learn to play with the lead. Obviously we have been behind a few times this year and have had to play from behind. We just need to continue to execute to put ourselves in that situation. We need to learn to play for 40 minutes in terms of competing, working and doing the things that we practice for the entire time."

On sticking with this starting lineup...
"It isn't completely locked in, you never know from game to game what is going to happen. I do like the group that starts for us right now. Sam has guarded some of the best guys in the country; we will be fine in that regard. I like the pace, I like the attention to detail and the way we start games with energy. If we need to go big, we can go big as well. We know we can throw Bryson and Terrell in there at the same time as well."

On facing Long Beach State on Saturday...
"We know they are going to be a team that is at the top of their league in terms of the players that they bring to the table. I like this series because it prepares us for conference play, just like this game did tonight. We will see a lot of Utah State, Colorado State and Boise State in film from a Weber State team tonight. We will see a lot of San Diego State and Nevada in Long Beach. We will see some athleticism from people who will play on both ends of the floor. It is a great game for us, I am glad we were able to get it going again. When we have played them before, I felt like it really helped us a lot in league play because it is a similar team to those that we will see in our league. We are excited about the opportunity. I have a lot of respect for their program and what they do. It is going to be a really good contest on the road for us."

Senior Guard Jaron Hopkins on the key to his quick start...
"Early on, I was just trying to be as aggressive as I can. I was also trying to look for my teammates, I found Bryson on a couple of rolls. I was just trying to be aggressive, it is key and I think I am pretty effective when I am aggressive."

On his seven steals tonight...
"I was just playing our defense, sitting and pressuring guys. Playing pressure defense and making them uncomfortable let them fall into my hands."

On connection with Sam Bittner...
"We know he is a really good shooter, he puts a lot of time in. Playing hard is the key to getting those types of plays. I lost the ball and I had a teammate back me up. I was fortunate enough to make the cut and get a layup. Chemistry like that is good and it is going to be good for us when we get to conference play."

On his output tonight...
"It was pretty good, I just wish I didn't get those two turnovers and I would've been more satisfied with my performance tonight. I felt like I was aggressive tonight. I went out there and played my game and didn't try to do anything that I am not capable of doing. Credit to Coach Terry for putting me on the ball screens and giving me confidence tonight."

Sophomore Forward Bryson Williams on facing Long Beach State...
"I expect it to be a very high-competitive matchup. I know they have a real good program down in Long Beach. They are going to bring their all. We just have to go in with the right mindset, we have to go in there and play hard defense and the offense will come. We just have to do what we do."

Up Next: Fresno State will play at Long Beach State on Saturday at 4 p.m. PT before returning home to CSU Bakersfield on Tuesday at 7 p.m. PT to tip off a 5-game homestand.

Tickets are on sale for Tuesday's home game vs. CSUB starting at just $10 through www.Ticketmaster.com and the Save Mart Center Box Office.

A limited number of single-game center section lower bowl tickets (Sections 109, 110, 122 and 123) are also available for $40.

"Just the Ticket to Build Our Community" - The Bulldog Scholarship Fund gives Bulldog alumni, fans and friends the opportunity to support Fresno State Athletics and the student-athletes who inspire them. For information about how you can support the Bulldog Scholarship Fund, please visit www.bulldogscholarshipfund.com or call 559-278-7160.

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