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The Collegian

Fresno State's student-run newspaper

The Collegian

Fresno State's student-run newspaper

The Collegian

Jacqueline Carrillo/The Collegian
Fresno State Head Coach Justin Hutson high fives center Enoch Boakye in the Thomas & Mack Center on March 14.

Hutson announces final game as Fresno State head coach after quarterfinal loss in Mountain West tournament

The Fresno State men’s basketball team closed out their 2023-24 season in the quarterfinal round of the Mountain West tournament, falling to the Utah State Aggies, 87-75.

At the post-game press conference, Fresno State Head Coach Justin Hutson shared that this was his final game as head coach.

“I’ve talked to the administration, you know, it’s a mutual decision,” Hutson said. My contract is up in April.”

He also shared that he would stay with the ‘Dogs but take on a new contract in an advisory position.

Before the game started, the stands on the right side of the Thomas & Mack Center were filled with Utah State fans, dancing and erupting in noise.

Fresno State earned the ball at the tipoff, but Utah State scored first via a 2-point jumper from guard Josh Uduje.

A technical foul was then given to Aggie Isaac Johnson, allowing the Bulldogs to make two free throws. Guard Xavier DuSell went to the line for the ‘Dogs as the Aggie fans in the crowd chanted to get him distracted. He missed both free throws.

DuSell was able to make it up by getting the Bulldogs on the board with a 3-pointer, taking the lead at 3-2.

With a little over two minutes into the game, center Enoch Boakye earned his second personal foul, subbing him out of the game. The ‘Dogs were then forced to play smaller as they didn’t have any more height.

“It’s a nice challenge [playing small],” guard Isaiah Pope said. “I think the small lineup makes us go a little extra harder.”

The Bulldogs went on a three-minute scoring drought, missing multiple fast-break opportunities to score. Guard Jalen Weaver broke them out of it with a layup, making the score 10-8.

At the 12-minute mark, Utah State forward Karson Templin caught an alley-oop pass from guard Darius Brown II, which made the Aggie crowd stand on its feet and cheer.

Boakye went back in for the ‘Dogs at the top of the 12-minute mark but was subbed out only 40 seconds later due to getting his third personal foul. He did not return for the remainder of the first half.

Bulldog guard Isaiah Pope had successful attempts driving into the paint and hit a turnaround jumper to make the score 16-12. Guard Leo Colimero followed with a shot of his own to cut the deficit to 2 points.

“Leo’s an energy giver,” said Head Coach Justin Hutson at the postgame press conference. “He never has a bad day. So if anyone wants a challenge that way.”

Lots of ball movement and rebounding from Bulldog guard Isaiah Hill led to a 3-point shot from guard Donovan Yap. The ‘Dogs went on a 12-point run, giving them their first lead of the game, 20-16.

Hill finished the game with 17 points, 10 rebounds and seven assists.

Bulldog guard Isaiah Hill dribbles in the Thomas & Mack Center on March 14. (Jacqueline Carrillo)

The Bulldog Marching Band members, Fresno State dance team and a few Fresno State fans scattered across the arena cheered almost as loudly as the Utah State section during that run.

Both teams were heavily struggling in foul trouble during the first half. Fresno State had 12 team fouls while Utah State had 10.

Templin fouled Weaver, but Weaver stayed poised and controlled under the loud roars as he hit both free throws from the line.

Weaver continued to add to the board, eurostepping through two defenders and making the score 28-22.

For the remaining two minutes, the teams went back-and-forth on the scoring. With a little under two minutes left in the second half, Brown II hit a 3-point shot to tie the game.

The ‘Dogs were able to add through free throws from Weaver, finishing the half in the lead at 36-35.

Utah State went on a 12-4 scoring run to take back the lead going into the second half, 46-40. Fresno State continued to get into foul trouble as Colimero earned two fouls, giving him four total personal fouls and subbing him out of the game. Boakye returned to the game in place of Colimerio.

Brown II recovered a lost ball from Boakye and made a 3-point shot. The ‘Dogs took the ball back down, and Weaver hit a 3. The Aggies answered back as Johnson hit a shot from behind the arc. Hill returned the points, hitting his own 3, cutting the deficit to 54-48.

“When I was looking around, if I went out today, I was going out with all I had. So, that was the mindset behind that,” Hill said.

Boakye earned his fifth and final foul with 13 minutes left to play in the game, making Colimerio permanently take his place.

After a timeout, Fresno State went on an offensive run, tying the game at 57 each.

The Aggies got the ball back and forward Great Osobor, the Aggies’ leading scorer, got his third personal foul. Osobor looked confused and questioned the call.

The Utah State fans booed the referees.

DuSell returned in the game and hit a 3-point shot to tie the game, 62-62. Utah State went on an 8-0 scoring run to take and extend its lead to 70-62. This caused Fresno State to call a timeout.

With 1:38 left in the game, Pope fouled out, finishing his play for the game and sending Osobor to the line. Osobor missed and Hill got the rebound, taking it to the rim and tying it at 70. Neither team scored, sending the game into overtime.

With five extra minutes on the clock, Utah State took on the scoring head-on. They went on an 11-0 scoring streak to extend their lead to 81-70. Fresno State added to the board, but it wasn’t enough as it fell short 87-75.

The Fresno State men’s basketball team concludes its season 12-20 overall and 4-14 in conference play.

Fresno State huddles up in the Thomas & Mack Center on March 14. (Jacqueline Carrillo)
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About the Contributor
Valentina Saldaña
Valentina Saldaña, Managing Editor
Valentina Saldaña is the Managing Editor for The Collegian and a junior at Fresno State. She started working for The Collegian in 2023 as the Sports Editor. Valentina is a Broadcast Journalism major and Philosophy minor and plans to pursue a career as a sports sideline reporter after college.  
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