FRESNO, Calif. -- Sylvester Seay scored 17 points in his Fresno State debut as the Bulldogs used a quick second-half start to defeat Sacramento State 77-65 on Friday night in both teams' season opener.
Seay, a transfer from Arizona State, scored eight of his points during a 13-0 Fresno State run to begin the second half. The surge put the Bulldogs ahead 50-31.
"We played aggressively on defense tonight and this team continues to get better," head coach Steve Cleveland said. "This is a very unselfish team and I like how we attacked the ball."
Loren Leath scored a game-high 21 points for Sacramento State in its first game under new coach Brian Katz. The senior went 5 of 7 from three-point range.
Freshman Paul George added 14 points for Fresno State (1-0), highlighted by four rim-rattling dunks, including a one-hander in traffic after he drove the baseline. Dwight O'Neil had 10 points, seven rebounds and a career-high seven assists. As a team, the Bullodgs slammed down seven dunks on the night.
Sacramento State (0-1) failed to score in the first 6:39 of the second half before Jared Stigall ended the drought with a three-pointer.
After another Stigall three brought the Hornets to within 54-39 with 11:54 left, Fresno State responded by initiating three consecutive fast breaks.
O'Neil stole the ball in the backcourt and passed to George for an alley-oop dunk. O'Neil made another steal and passed to Mychal Ladd for a dunk. George then dunked off a long rebound and pass from Bryce Cartwright, putting the Bulldogs up by 21 points and forcing Sacramento State to call timeout with 10:09 left.
"Dunks change momentum," George said when asked of their impact. "It's fun for us and to have the crowd get into the game."
O'Neil credited the swarming defensive pressure for creating the high-flying theatrics.
"It all starts with defense," O'Neil said. "I can pass them the ball when we apply pressure."
Fresno State led by as many as 26 points, 71-45, before the Hornets closed the deficit in the final minutes with Leath getting hot from the outside.
Mike Edwards, one of 12 junior college transfers recruited by Katz, added 10 points for Sacramento State. All came in the first half.
The Bulldogs outshot Sacramento State from the field, 54.9 to 37.9 percent. Fresno State swatted 11 Hornet shots, including three by Seay, compared to one for Sacramento State.
"Join the State - Fresno State!" - The `Dogs travel to take on Saint Mary's on Monday, November 17 in a nationally televised game on ESPN at 11:00 p.m. The `Dogs return to the Save Mart Center on Tuesday, November 25th as they host Seattle at 7:00 p.m. Tickets are on sale now through the Save Mart Center box office, by calling (559) 485-TIXS or online at ticketmaster.com.
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