Fresno State men’s basketball falls short to No. 19 San Diego State


Valentina Saldaña/The Collegian

Bulldog Isaiah Hill dribbles by two Aztec defenders.

By Aileen Guzman, Reporter

In the final minute of the game, the Bulldogs were down 1 point against the Aztecs. Fans all around the Save Mart Center were on their feet in one of the most highly-attended games of the season. 

The Bulldogs fouled to keep the clock from running. Fans cheered as an Aztec player missed one of two free throws, making it a one-possession game. 

With 3.3 seconds left, and down 2 points, Bulldog point guard Isaiah Hill ran down the court and threw up a floater from beyond the arc, but the room fell to silence as the ball bounced off the backboard.  

The Fresno State men’s basketball team lost against San Diego State 45-43 at the Save Mart Center on Wednesday, Feb. 15. 

“Extremely proud of our guys’ fight and togetherness. I was excited about that. It’s not coming as a surprise right now but this was a different-level team. Also, with their physicality, they were going to bring a different challenge, so really happy for our guys’ collective toughness and our collective execution towards the end,” said Fresno State’s head coach Justin Hutson. 

During the first half, the Bulldogs managed to hold a strong defensive formation with a total of 3 steals, giving them a 2-point lead. But in the second half, San Diego State stepped up its game by scoring 22 points with 10 steals.

Despite the Bulldogs falling short, they managed to dominate the boards with a total of 26 defensive rebounds and 12 offensive rebounds. But it wasn’t enough to help them catch up to the Aztecs. 

Huston mentioned that San Diego State is a strong team with a different ‘physicality’ than Fresno State. The Aztecs remain on the top of the Mountain West conference and are ranked in the top 25 for men’s basketball by the Associated Press.

“They’re a very tough defense and they made it hard for us and that’s what they try to do every night,” said Fresno State guard Anthony Holland. 

The Aztecs won the tipoff which started a fast and aggressive game as both teams struggled to score. Aztec forward Keshad Johnson had a chance to get the first point of the game but missed a free throw after getting fouled. Bulldog Isaiah Hill had an easy layup but was blocked.

The Aztecs then went on a 5-0 run, with a layup from Johnson and a 3 from Matt Bradley. 

The ‘Dogs responded with a dunk by Eduardo Andre in transition off of a turnover. 

Fresno State forward Eduardo Andre makes a slam dunk during the first half. (Valentina Saldaña/The Collegian)

Hill continued the momentum by getting rid of his defender with a pump fake, making an easy layup. San Diego still led 5-4.

Fresno State maintained a full-court press throughout the first half. This led to steals and buckets in transition. At minute 14, San Diego State had a shot clock violation and then lost the ball by stepping out of bounds in back-to-back plays. But the Aztecs also had a strong defense, and the ‘Dogs ended with a five second violation of their own. 

Fresno State guard Jemarl Baker shoots from beyond the arc against San Diego State on Feb. 15. (Valentina Saldaña/The Collegian)

At minute 13, Bulldog Leo Colimerio rose up above the rim, after rushing from the baseline, but was met by an Aztec defender at the rim who blocked the shot.

Fresno State had a solid man-to-man defense within the first half. Andre scored in the post, giving Fresno State the first lead of the game, 10-9, with nine minutes remaining. 

San Diego tried to respond with an alley-oop slam dunk but failed to execute the play. 

With five minutes left, the Aztecs shot two free throws to tie the game, making it 17-17. However, the ‘Dogs led the game 25-23 by halftime.

It was a battle throughout the second half, but San Diego State showed why it’s ranked No. 19 in the nation. The final seconds were the most eventful.

At the end of the second half, the Aztecs led with a score of 45-43.

Both teams fought for every possession, with players diving to the floor to get the ball. 

With the ‘Dogs holding the last possession of the game and the clock set to 3 seconds, Hill attempts at a 3 was unsuccessful. The timer went off and the Aztecs took the win. 

Fresno State will face Colorado State at the Save Mart Center on Feb. 18.