All five Fresno State starters scored in double figures, and the hot-shooting Bulldogs cruised to a 78-59 win over Northwestern on Thursday in the first round of the Wooden Legacy in Fullerton, Calif.
Fresno State (2-1) moves on to a Friday semifinal against Miami (Fla.), which beat La Salle 85-49 earlier Thursday. The Wildcats (3-1) will oppose the Explorers in the consolation bracket on Friday.
Braxton Huggins topped the Bulldogs with 17 points. Sam Bittner and New Williams each scored 14, and Nate Grimes and Deshon Taylor contributed 12 apiece. Grimes also grabbed a game-high nine rebounds.
Fresno State sank 24 of 48 field-goal attempts (50 percent), including 11 of 23 from 3-point range. Northwestern made just 18 of 51 from the floor (35.3 percent), 6 of 22 from long distance.
Vic Law paced the Wildcats with 13 points, and Dererk Pardon added 11 points and seven rebounds.
Fresno State began establishing its dominance with a 10-2 first-half run that established a 13-8 lead. Williams capped the surge with a 3-pointer.
A 10-4 Bulldogs spurt pushed the advantage to 23-12 with 11:38 left in the half when Christian Gray sank two foul shots.
Fresno State soon ran off eight consecutive points to go up 31-15 on Bittner’s two free throws with 8:40 left before the break.
Northwestern trailed by 19 points before Pardon’s personal five-point run in the last minute of the half. Pardon completed a three-point after a layup, then dunked with 32 seconds to go, pulling the Wildcats within 42-28.
A Taylor 3-pointer and a Grimes basket in the first 61 seconds of the second half moved the Bulldogs’ edge to 47-28.
The margin topped 20 points at 56-35 on a Grimes layup with 13:57 to go.
Northwestern had opened the season with three comfortable consecutive home wins, over New Orleans, American and Binghamton. Fresno State routed Alaska Anchorage in its opener before losing at then-No. 21 TCU on Nov. 15.
—Field Level Media