Utah State had a clear advantage in the frontcourt in this match up, and they took advantage of it too. The Aggies leading scorer at center, Jarred Shaw, had 18 points and 7 rebounds while power forward Kyle Davis had a double-double at 14 points and 15 rebounds. The Aggies finished with 42 points in the paint compared to 28 from Fresno State. The Bulldogs’ guards beat Utah State’s backcourt at their own game; however, and jumped out to a big first half lead.
The Aggies lead the Mountain West in 3-point shooting, making over 40 percent of their attempts. It was the Bulldogs who turned out to be the team hitting everything from deep on Saturday. Fresno State missed their first three attempts from beyond the arc, but then made their next five consecutive 3-point attempts. Utah State meanwhile missed their first eight 3-point shots. The sudden burst led a 27-8 run for the ‘Dogs and built a 16 point lead in the first half.
Hot shooting rarely last for 40 minutes and the Aggies quickly got back into the game. Utah State proceeded to go on a 20-5 run and cut the Fresno State lead to just one point with still over 18 minutes to play.
The huge runs came to an end and the game went back and forth until Fresno State’s 3-pointers started falling once again. Four of the Bulldogs’ last five field goals came from 3-point range over the final nine minutes of the game. The last 3-pointer from Tyler Johnson gave the ‘Dogs a 75-69 lead which they were able to hold onto for the final 3:27 with their defense and four free throws in the last minute.
Tyler Johnson led the charge in the first half with 14 of his 21 points in the first 20 minutes and Paul Watson led the Bulldogs in the second half with 15 of his 20 points coming in the final 20 minutes. Johnson finished with a double-double, adding 10 rebounds. Fresno State shot 44 percent from the field and 48 percent from 3-point range.
The Aggies shot 50 percent overall, but were limited to just 29% from deep.
The meeting in the Smith Spectrum was the first between the two teams as Mountain West members. The Bulldogs managed just one win on the Aggies’ home court in seven tries in the WAC.
The win also keeps the Bulldogs in front of Utah State in the Mountain West standings. Fresno State remains in seventh in the MW, but are just 1.5 games back of third place with two weeks remaining in the regular season.
Fresno State improves to 14-14 and 7-8 in conference play. The ‘Dogs now host their last two home games, starting with Boise State on Wednesday at 6:00pm PT.