STOCKTON, Calif. (AP) -- Perhaps Jerry Tarkanian shouldn't worry
so much about every stop on Fresno State's schedule. His concerns
about Pacific turned out to be unfounded.
Melvin Ely had 24 points and 12 rebounds, and Chris Jefferies
had 16 points and 13 rebounds as Fresno State (No. 20 ESPN/USA Today, No. 24 AP) beat Pacific 73-65 on Wednesday night.
Fresh off their third-place finish in last week's Preseason NIT,
the Bulldogs (4-1) had little trouble with the Tigers, their former
rivals in the Big West Conference. Fresno State led 71-52 with 3:30
left, but Pacific's reserves made a prolonged rally to narrow the
The Bulldogs' notoriously fretful coach warned his team that the
Tigers presented a possible "ambush." Instead, Fresno State
looked strong and resilient in its first true road game of the
"I was really uptight about this game," Tarkanian said.
"They're tough at home, and this is a tough place to play. I think
our defense was absolutely sensational, though, especially in the
Using the zone defense that gave so much trouble to Michigan
State at Madison Square Garden, the Bulldogs held Pacific to
29.7-percent shooting and forced 14 turnovers.
Tarkanian's worries over the Bulldogs' defensive effort also
proved groundless, as Ely blocked six shots, and point guard Matt
Mitchell pressured the ball effectively.
Demetrius Jackson had 18 points for Pacific, which beat Southern
Miss and Santa Clara earlier this season. The Tigers never got into
an offensive rhythm against the Bulldogs, who blocked eight shots.
"They're ranked for a reason," Jackson said. "We got off to a
slow start, and they've beaten some good teams."
Fresno State beat Pacific for the fifth straight season, and in
their third straight meeting at the Spanos Center, where Pacific's
largest crowd since a 1998 game against Stanford watched the Tigers
Fresno State jumped to a 10-point lead in the opening minutes
and led 42-25 at halftime. Ely had 12 points and five rebounds in
the first half, and Jefferies and Damon Jackson hit three
"We just didn't want to let them get back in the game," Ely
said. "The way they shoot, they can easily get back in the game,
so we just tried to give ourselves a little cushion."
Ely was in top form, hitting his short hook shot consistently
and rebounding with authority. He got an ovation from Fresno
State's ardent group of traveling boosters when he left the game
with less than 2 minutes remaining.
"We knew Ely and those guys were really good," Pacific coach
Bob Thomason said. "Our post guys were very tentative, and they
did a great job blocking shots."
Jefferies hit four 3-pointers, while Damon Jackson added 11
David Bunts scored 11 points in the second half for Pacific
After playing host to a low-key tournament in Fresno this
weekend, the Bulldogs' next chance for national attention comes on
Dec. 6, when they'll face Gonzaga in Inglewood, Calif.