Entering the game, the Fresno State Bulldogs and San Diego State Aztecs were in a three-way tie for third place in the Mountain West. At the end, one of those teams moved up into sole possession of second place.
Fresno State guard Cezar Guerrero (3) dribbles the ball up the court during the Bulldogs’ 58-47 loss at San Diego State. (Chadd Cady/The Daily Aztec)
After upsetting San Diego State earlier this month, the Fresno State men’s basketball team looked to continue the trend in order to pull ahead and establish a top spot in the conference.
But the Aztecs (16-5, 6-2 MW), who were looking to avenge the Jan. 3 upset loss to the Bulldogs did just that in the 58-47 win Tuesday night in front of its 50th consecutive regular-season sellout crowd at Viejas Arena.
The ‘Dogs started the game shooting 0-for-5 but bounced back to take a 1-point lead midway through the initial half after Karachi Edo sunk consecutive free throws. However, San Diego State diminished the lead by responding with a pair of free throws of their own. From then, the Bulldogs never led again.
Moving forward, the Aztecs used their physical defensive presence to put the ‘Dogs in tough situations and force tough shots as the game went on, particularly in the second half.
“I thought we did enough early from a defensive standpoint to be right where we needed to be,” head coach Rodney Terry said. “It got to the point where we had a four-minute stretch when we had guys that tried to do it themselves and try to carry us. We had been working for the thing that we want and the kind of looks that we want.
“The next step for this program and this team is growth. [The loss] was a direct reflection that we didn’t have good preparation or maturity, and it carried over tonight.”
The Bulldogs (10-11, 5-3 MW) struggled from 3-point range. Fresno State shot just 1-of-10 from behind the arc.
San Diego State senior guard Aqeel Quinn contributed a game-best 16 points and Winston Shepard, the Aztecs’ season leading scorer, added 11 and nine rebounds.
The Aztecs have now won five of their last six.
Junior guard Marvelle Harris scored a team-high 13 points for the Bulldogs and Paul Watson had 10.
Harris looked to have injured a knee after taking a fall in the paint battling for a rebound in the second half. But the injury proved to not be serious as he came back in to the game a few plays later.
The Bulldogs take on the Colorado State Rams (18-3, 5-3 MW) Saturday on the road.