By @Stephen Trembley
By @Stephen Trembley
SAN DIEGO - The Fresno State men's basketball team quickly found itself behind and made one charge at the start of the second half before losing 75-53 to No. 25 San Diego State on Saturday afternoon at Viejas Arena at Aztec Bowl.
The final score was telling of the fact that the Bulldogs still have a long way to go to reach the upper echelon of the Mountain West - which has proven to be one of the nation's premier conferences this season.
But even as Fresno State was getting beat in nearly every aspect of the game by a more aggressive and physical San Diego State squad that simply outexecuted the 'Dogs on both ends of the floor, there were signs of where the Bulldogs' program is heading.
Freshman Braeden Anderson, who was playing in just his second game of the season after sitting out the first 20 as a mid-year transfer, added a spark of physicality and toughness to second-year Fresno State coach Rodney Terry's arsenal. Anderson displayed as much by diving for a loose balls, using his 6-9 and 235-pound frame to muscle his way to six rebounds and showed his offensive touch with 12 points on 4-of-6 shooting - all off the bench and in just 21 minutes of action.
While the 'Dogs found themselves behind the eight-ball throughout the first half until late jumpers by Anderson and Tyler Johnson kept Fresno State, who had trailed by as many as 12 in the first half, within eight points midway through the contest.
The Bulldogs made it a two-possession game when senior Kevin Foster put in a lay-up 13 seconds into the second half, but then it was simply a show for the Aztecs, who rattled off the next 13 points and went on a 27-5 run to put the contest out of reach. SDSU never looked back in securing the 22-point victory and emptied its bench in using 14 players to move to 18-5 on the season and 6-3 in Mountain West play.
For Fresno State, who came into the game after upsetting UNLV on Wednesday, the cold-shooting hampered any hope for a comeback and finished just 29.3 percent from the floor, 21.1 percent on 3-point attempts and continued its struggles at the free throw line by hitting 65.2 percent at the charity stripe.
The Aztecs owned the paint with a 34-14 advantage on the low block and SDSU's Jamaal Franklin posted 14 points and 11 rebounds to register a double-double for the second time this year against Fresno State. Franklin had 20 points and 18 rebounds in the team's first meeting back on Jan. 9, when San Diego State edged the 'Dogs 65-62 at the Save Mart Center.
Bulldogs' junior guard Tyler Johnson tied for a game-best 14 points and added eight rebounds. Another freshman also reach double figures (Marvelle Harris - 11 points) and Fresno State's four freshmen all played at least 15 minutes.
Fresno State (8-14, 2-7 MW) will need to regroup quickly as the 'Dogs host Mountain West leader New Mexico on Wednesday night at 7 p.m. PT in the school's second meeting this season. UNM used a first-half closing surge to leave no doubt back on Jan. 12 in beating the Bulldogs 72-45 at the Pit. However, it should be noted that the 'Dogs did play that first game against the Lobos without two starters (Johnson - injury and Foster - death in the family).
"Discover Fresno State Athletics!" --- Tickets for the Bulldogs' three remaining home games can be purchased by calling 559-278-DOGS (Monday-Friday between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m.) or visiting www.gobulldogs.com.
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