*Correction: Seniors Tyler Johnson and Allen Huddleston were honored
On Saturday night, when a coaching legend was honored, the Fresno State men’s basketball team dropped its home finale to the San Diego State Aztecs 82-67.
This was the second meeting this season between the conference foes. With the win, San Diego State swept the season series. The Aztecs won the Jan. 15 contest, 68-60.
San Diego State’s 60-percent shooting propelled it throughout the night and enabled it to eventually pull away.
The Bulldogs started off slow as it took them nearly four minutes to get on the board. The ‘Dogs’ only lead of the game came after a Tyler Johnson 3-pointer that got the crowd on its feet to make the score 13-12.
After that, the Aztecs took command and led the rest of the way. They established various double-digit leads, their largest being 19 points.
Fresno State sophomore guard Marvelle Harris fights off San Diego State defenders during the Bulldogs’ loss Saturday night. Photo by Matt Vieira/The Collegian
Paving the way for the No. 13 team in the country was standout senior guard Xavier Thames, who sunk 7 of 12 field goals en route to a game-high 22 points. That included a 3 of 4 performance from 3-point range.
“We give [the Aztecs] a lot of credit. They came in and shot the ball extremely well,” Fresno State head coach Rodney Terry said.
Terry said that the inconsistency on the defensive end of the court was “the story of the game” that allowed the Aztecs to pull away. The ‘Dogs struggled to make plays when they desperately needed them.
“We couldn’t get meaningful stops when we needed to get stops,” Terry said. “We didn’t compete at the level we needed to on defense.”
The Aztecs bench also played a critical role in the victory. It outscored Fresno State’s, 28-12. Guard Aqeel Quinn led the substitutes with a 17-point performance.
At halftime, the Bulldogs retired Jerry Tarkanian’s No. 2 jersey. The coach of the Bulldogs from 1995-2002 smiled as 14,801 fans – the fourth-largest crowd in the history of the Save Mart Center – roared during the ceremony.
Tyler Johnson, a senior. scored a team-high 18 points in his final game at the Save Mart Center. He and fellow classman Allen Huddleston were recognized before the game as part of Senior Night.
“The crowd was really something. They did a great job. I know we didn’t give them a whole lot to cheer about but I want to thank them for all of the support,” Johnson said. “I want to thank all of the fans that came out.”
San Diego State, one of two ranked teams in the conference, remains atop the Mountain West standings. However, the Aztecs are only half of a game in front of No. 25 New Mexico for first place.
Fresno State’s season finale will feature a trip to San Jose on Saturday to take on the last-place Spartans in a 7 p.m. showdown.
The ‘Dogs are in seventh place in the conference standings and look to climb a couple spots before heading to the 2014 Mountain West Championships which will take place March 12-15 at the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas.