Aztecs win a defensive battle against Fresno State 45-43

Credit: 247 Sports

The short URL of the present article is:
Spread the love
Credit: Aztecs Athletics

The #21 SDSU men’s basketball team took on the Fresno State Bulldogs for the first time this season and may be their last. The Red and Black held a 69-56 overall record against the Bulldogs coming into the game but were 25-33 in the Save Mart Center in Fresno, California.

A lot of upsets happened last week, Northwestern defeated the then #1 Purdue (the Boilermakers dropped to #3), and Stanford defeated the then #4 Arizona (the Wildcats dropped to #8), but the Aztecs didn’t let UNLV upset them this past weekend as they won 82-71 and jumped from #25 to #21 in the AP Poll.

SDSU has won the last seven games versus Fresno State, four of those wins in the Save Mart Center.

“Being on the road, going up against a friend is always tough,” head coach Brian Dutcher said about Fresno State’s head coach Justin Hutson (former SDSU assistant coach) and his team yesterday in a video posted by SDSU men’s basketball Twitter page. “Offensively, they do a great job of spacing the floor, get a lot of ball screens with the floor space, and like most teams, if we run into a night where they are making a lot of threes, it’s going to be a long night.”

The Aztecs put the Bulldogs at an ice-cold 8% from beyond the arc, but the game wasn’t easy to win offensively, as SDSU won a nail-biter 45-43 victory with their defense.

In the first 9:40, it was a very defensive battle. Fresno State was outrebounding the Aztecs 11 to seven, both teams had two blocks each, and the Aztecs had four steals in a 9-6 lead.

Jordan Campbell made a lay-up for the Bulldogs to end Fresno State’s almost five-minute scoring drought at the 10:02 mark.

After Eduardo Andre made a lay-up at the 9:07 mark for FSU, Nathan Mensah’s jumper ended the Aztecs’ almost four-minute scoring drought. Then the scoring went at a faster pace.

Both teams started trading points, with Andre leading the way for Fresno State with four points in the paint (eight in total).

At the 3:03 mark of the first, Isaiah Hill started consistently scoring and put momentum in the Bulldogs’ paws. He scored six points in a little under two minutes to give Fresno State their biggest lead of the night, 25-20. Then, a Micah Parrish three cut the Bulldogs’ lead to two by halftime.

Hill and Andre were the key scorers for FSU in the first half, as they combined for 19 points and 53% shooting.

Even without Fresno State’s team-leading rebounder, Isaih Moore (148 rebounds), due to health and personal reasons, the Bulldogs were leading on the glass 22-13, mostly coming from the defensive glass (15).

FSU was a little turnover crazy in the first half with ten turnovers, but the Aztecs weren’t that far behind with seven.

SDSU’s seven steals (mostly accumulated by Darrion Trammell, who had three of the seven) were key for taking the Bulldogs away from offensive possession. It also helped lead to some of the points off turnovers (four in total) and fast break points (2).

Credit: 247 Sports

A Lamont Butler lay-up started the scoring off in the second quarter and tied the game at 25.

After Andre secured an offensive rebound and put in a left-handed lay-up at the 18:09 mark of the second, the Bulldogs couldn’t score for just a little over four minutes until Donovan Yap made a lay-up at the 13:57 mark.

During that time, Johnson made a three, and Mensah secured an offensive rebound and then put in a hook shot as the Aztecs led 31-29.

When Hill ended the Bulldogs’ six-minute field goal drought with a lay-up and one, then making the free throw after, the game started to go Fresno State’s way.

From the start of Hill’s lay-up, FSU went on an 8-0 run to gain a 41-40 lead. A Trammell lay-up stopped the bleeding and gave the Aztecs the lead back.

Despite Hill’s lay-up at the 2:42 mark to tie the game at 43, the Aztecs were able to put in two out of four free throws and fend off the Bulldogs the rest of the way to win 45-43.

The Red and Black won a defensive battle to stay atop of the Mountain West and their eighth straight against Fresno State.

“It was a beautiful win,” Dutcher said postgame. “Got big stops down the stretch. Every time we play them, it’s this style of game.”

Despite the Aztecs winning on the glass 21-16 in the second half, the Bulldogs still out rebounded SDSU overall 38-34. Johnson had nine of the Aztecs’ 34 rebounds, and Mensah had eight of them.

[wpedon id=”49075″ align=”right”]

“Defense, that’s what is going to get the win on the road,” Johnson said postgame. “Defense takes up that slack whenever our offense is lacking.”

The Red and Black had 14 of their 45 points off the bench, and only one starter for the Aztecs was in double-digits, Matt Bradley, who had 10 points on four for 12 shooting.

Despite the loss, Hill was a key starter who kept the Bulldogs in the game, as he finished with 16 points on six for 16 shooting. Before Andre fouled out, he had 10 points on 50% shooting.

The Aztecs held FSU to 31% shooting, while Fresno State held SDSU to 33%.

The Aztecs head back home to Viejas Arena to take on the Colorado State Rams for the second time this season on Tuesday, Feb. 21, at 8 PM PST.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *