Baker Jr. shoots Fresno State to victory against UNLV


Jemarl Baker Jr. shoots from beyond the arc, against Utah State on Jan. 28, at the Save Mart Center. (Marcos Acosta/The Collegian)

By Alexis Bruno, Reporter

Bulldog guard Jemarl Baker Jr.’s offensive spark pushed Fresno State to an 82-79 victory against the University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV) on Feb. 3 at the Thomas & Mark Center.

Baker Jr. stayed grounded on the court having a high-scoring game, playing 37 out of 40 minutes against the Running Rebels. Despite some trouble connecting from behind the arc this season, he led Fresno State in scoring with 23 points, shooting 6-for-12 from the field and 4-for-5 from the 3-point line. 

“I just tried to stay aggressive when I got back in. I tried to stay locked in when I was out, cheering the team on, and tried to keep everybody’s energy up,” said Baker Jr.

UNLV won the jump ball and came out with a strong drive going up 2-0. 

Despite UNLV scoring first, the ‘Dogs’ responded with a 3-0 run, leading 7-2. 

Yet, the Rebels’ offense always had an answer, keeping the game within close range. 

Around the 11-minute mark, Baker Jr. launched a successful three to move Fresno State up 19-16. The Bulldogs shot 3-for-4 from behind the arc that far. 

UNLV’s defense stayed aggressive, holding the ‘Dogs  with no score for 3 1/2 minutes that allowed them to go up by seven. 

At the end of the half, the Rebels led 43-37. 

Opening the second half, point guard Isaiah Hill started off hot, knocking down a mid-range jumper, with an assist by Baker Jr. 

During their first matchup against UNLV on Jan. 21, Bulldog Head Coach Justin Hudson mentioned the growth of Hill on the court. 

“He’s turning into a guy who knows when he can score and when he can facilitate,” said Hudson. 

Down by six in the first half, the ‘Dogs stayed poised, going on a 5-0 run to take the lead. Fresno State led 44-43 with 18 minutes remaining.     

The Rebels responded with efficient ball movement, driving to the paint and kicking out to an open teammate for a three to make it a 2-point game. 

The Bulldogs later on lost the lead, but a confident Baker Jr. went 2-for-2 beyond the arc, making it a 1-point game, 54-55.

Fresno State bigs, Eduardo Andre and Isaih Moore, accumulated four fouls each, forcing the ‘Dogs to go small offensively midway through the second half. 

Moore backed into the game with six minutes remaining and connected to the rim for a big dunk to take the lead 63-62, building up momentum. 

UNLV guard Elijah Harkless, kept the Rebels sharp, having a 27-point game. 

With 28-seconds left, the game came down to free throws as Moore was fouled. With frustration on both ends from pushing and shoving, a double technical foul was called and Moore was fouled out of the ball game. 

Fresno State guard Donavan Yap entered the game to shoot Moore’s free throws going 1-for-2 from the line increasing the lead to 78-74. 

With 4 seconds left, Hill was fouled and made both free throws to secure the game. 

Fresno State ended a seven-game losing streak on road conference games. It will face San Jose State at the Savemart Center on Feb. 7.