Career night from Yap fuels 65-56 Fresno State win over CSUN

(Photo: Jackson Moore, 247Sports)

The Fresno State Bulldogs men’s basketball team has back-to-back wins for the first time this season. Coming off a surprising 80-66 win at UC Irvine, the ‘Dogs protected home court against the Cal State University Northridge Matadors with a 65-56 victory on Wednesday.

The scoring duo of Donavan Yap and Jemarl Baker led the Bulldogs to the win. The two combined for 33 points, 23 of which came in the second half. Yap led the way with 17 points on 6-of-8 field goals and 5-of-7 makes from 3-point range. Baker added 16 points on 6-of-13 from the field.

The performance by Yap was especially critical – he was averaging just 6.9 points per game and shooting 14 percent from 3-point range. Yap set a career-high in points and 3-pointers made, on the heels of what was then a career-high 15 points at UCI on Saturday.

Fresno State jumped out to a three-score lead in the opening minutes. It was Isaih and Isaiah led the early charge – Moore opened with a layup, Hill scored back-to-back, then four points from Moore put the ‘Dogs ahead 10-3.

CSUN’s early seven-point deficit nearly vanished in a 38-second span as guard Ethan Igbanugo made back-to-back 3-pointers. De’Sean Allen-Eikens added another bucket for CSUN’s first lead and the first of seven lead changes in the half.

Allen-Eikens turned a two-point CSUN deficit into a three-point lead with a jumper and a 3-pointer in a 45-second span. Dionte Bostick gave the Matadors their biggest lead of the half when his basket in the paint made it 20-15 with 8:57 still in the first half.

The Bulldogs pushed back ahead with a 3-pointer from Yap, layup by Jordan Campbell, and 3-pointer by Baker for an 8-0 run. But a pair of Atin Wright 3-pointers was enough for CSUN to take a 30-29 halftime lead on Fresno State’s home floor.

The second half quickly became a game of runs. Fresno State took a brief lead with a jumper from Hill. CSUN scored eight unanswered points led by a pair of Dearon Tucker for a 38-31 score. Then came the Bulldogs’ run.

Jordan Brinson shifted momentum with a pair of free throws in his first appearance of the night – then came the Yap show. Yap made back-to-back 3-pointers for the Bulldogs, then a third 3-pointer and a transition layup. In all, it was a 13-2 run with Yap scoring 11 straight for the ‘Dogs, for a 44-40 Bulldogs lead.

Yap passed the torch to Baker, who scored the Bulldogs’ next seven points over the next four minutes to hold a 51-44 lead.

Fresno State went the next four-plus minutes without a field goal. CSUN crept within two points on Wright’s third 3-pointer of the night. But the Bulldogs’ pair of second-half scores both mustered a key bucket to pull away. Baker made a mid-range fadeaway off the glass, then Yap followed with a corner 3-pointer for a 58-51 lead and two minutes left.

Yap and Baker combined for 9-of-13 makes from the field in the final 16 minutes. Yap was 4-of-5 from 3-point range in the second half alone. Aside from Yap, the rest of the team made just 3-of-19 attempts from 3-point range in the game – 2-of-7 came from Baker.

In addition to the two guards, Moore finished with 10 rebounds and 9 points – Hill also added 10 points.

CSUN was led by 20 points from Allen-Eikens on 9-of-13 from the field. The Matadors fall to 2-6 overall.

Fresno State improves to 3-5 on the season. Wednesday’s win was Fresno State’s first home game in three weeks. Now they’ll be back on the road to play at Pacific on Saturday at 2 pm PT. The ‘Dogs return home on Dec. 17 for a 4 pm PT tip-off versus Sacramento State. Fresno State plays at CSU Bakersfield on Dec. 20 before the Mountain West opener at home vs Wyoming on Dec. 28

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