Fresno, Calif. (KSEE/KGPE) – The Fresno State men’s basketball team hung around with No. 25 San Diego State for most of the first half, but eventually fell 75-57 to the Aztecs on Saturday at the Save Mart Center.
Fresno State (9-9, 7-9 Mountain West) is now in seventh place in the conference standings entering the final scheduled week of the regular season, which has the Bulldogs playing at UNLV on Wednesday and Friday.
San Diego State (17-4, 11-3 MW) remains tied with Colorado State for second place in the MW and even with conference-leading Boise State in the loss column. SDSU and Boise State meet this week in San Diego for a two-game series at Viejas Arena.
Unlike in the first meeting between the two teams on Thursday, when San Diego State fell behind 11-0, the Aztecs did not get off to a slow start this time, jumping out to an early 9-0 lead less than three minutes into the game. The Bulldogs fought back, getting as close as 21-18 after a Deon Stroud layup with 7:51 left in the first half.
However, that was as close as Fresno State would get. With the help of 12 first half points from Jordan Schakel, who went a perfect 4-for-4 from beyond the arc in the first 20 minutes, the Aztecs carried a 36-26 lead into the break.
The Aztecs eventually stretched their lead to as many as 21 in the second half, and cruised to their eighth straight win.
“I thought our fight is still there, it’s not always consistent,” said Bulldogs head coach Justin Hutson. “I thought we generated better shots tonight. They just didn’t go in. We were better tonight on pick and roll, but when we missed open looks, I think we got a little discouraged. If you get discouraged at that point in time, they came down and moved the ball and got a lot of threes in transition, and give them the credit, they nailed them.”
The Aztecs shot 61 percent from the field and made more free throws (17) than the Bulldogs attempted (16). They also went an efficient 8-of-12 from beyond the 3-point line, and outscored the Bulldogs 30-11 in points off turnovers.
Fresno State by contrast, only hit 5-of-20 three’s, and 22-of-51 shots overall (43.1%).
The Bulldogs were led in the scoring column by sophomores Deon Stroud and Orlando Robinson, who had 17 points and 16 points respectively.
Stroud only made 7-of-19 shots, but coach Hutson liked his effort, which also included seven rebounds.
“I thought he took good shots,” said Hutson. “His three-point shots coming out of the post were good. His mid-range shots are the ones that he made. He didn’t shoot it great tonight, but he took good shots and he defended better.”
Robinson was efficient from the field (7-of-9 FG), but also had a team-high five turnovers.
The Aztecs were led by Jordan Schakel, who scored 14 points and also collected eight rebounds. Fellow seniors Matt Mitchell and Terrell Gomez both finished with 13 points.