Freshmen Star in ESPN Hoops Tip-Off
Nov. 18, 2008
MORAGA, Calif. - In front of a raucous, hostile, and sellout crowd on national television, Fresno State battled throughout the late night madness to a 99-85 decision in favor of the Gaels. Four Bulldogs reached double figures in Fresno State's road opener.
"All of our freshmen weren't intimidated," head coach Steve Cleveland said. "They played hard and gave us great minutes. They will be better as the season goes on and will be better because of this game."
Freshman guard Paul George opened the scoring from the wing with his first collegiate three-pointer to give Fresno State an early 3-0 lead.
George, who recorded his first double-double with a career-high 25 points and 10 rebounds in the contest, silenced the Gael Force (Saint Mary's student section) for a moment by going straight over the Gael defense for a one-handed slam dunk that will certainly be included in his highlight reel for the rest of his career.
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Another freshman starter, Mychal Ladd, also delivered his best night in a Bulldog uniform with a career-high 13 points, surpassing his previous mark of 10 points late in the first half.
Bryce Cartwright earned a career-high 21 minutes while defending one of the best point guards in the nation, sophomore Australian phenom Patrick Mills, and playing strong defense and running the offense.
Senior guard Dwight O'Neil split time between the point and wing while racking in 12 points and nine rebounds. Junior forward Sylvester Seay also put 12 points on the scoreboard as well as bringing nine rebounds off the boards.
The Bulldogs continued to compete on both ends of the floor with Saint Mary's College (2-0) throughout the game. They trailed at halftime 55-42, but stayed within one point of the Gaels during the second half (44-43) to fall 99-85.
"To come and score 85 points against a very good defensive team feels good," Cleveland said. "Our guys competed and didn't back down."
Mills recorded a game-high 27 points to lead Saint Mary's in scoring. Mills is the only current collegiate basketball player to have played in the 2008 Beijing Olympics. He directed Australia's offense as their point guard and scored 20 points on Team USA. The Gaels' Omar Samhan and Diamon Simpson both added double-doubles. Samhan boasted 18 points and 10 rebounds as Simpson had 10 points and 10 rebounds.
Fresno State (1-1) returns home to Fresno for a couple days of practice before continuing their first road trip of the year with a trek down the Golden State to battle the San Diego State Aztecs at the Cox Arena on Saturday, Nov. 22 at 1 p.m. The game can be heard live on KMJ 580 AM radio and www.kmj580.com.
"Join the State - Fresno State!" - The `Dogs continue on the road as they travel to San Diego State on Saturday, November 22 at 1:00 pm. The `Dogs return to the Save Mart Center on Tuesday, November 25 as they host Seattle University at 7:00 pm. Tickets are on sale now through the Save Mart Center box office, by calling (559) 485-TIXS or online at ticketmaster.com.