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Senior guard Ray Bowles Jr. drives the ball past San Diego State on Feb. 6, 2018 at the Save Mart Center. (Alejandro Soto/ The Collegian)

Bulldogs sweep series with Aztecs

The Fresno State men’s basketball team outscored the San Diego State Aztecs Tuesday night by 11 points in the first half and 12 in the second.

The Dogs swept their Mountain West foes 79-61.

Guard Jaron Hopkins, forward Nate Grimes and guard Bryson Williams scored a combined 47 points as they outlasted their conference rivals for the second time this season.

It was a complete team effort. From a 15-2 run that came late in the first half to a string of 11 forced turnovers, the Bulldogs set the tone early and never looked back.

San Diego State jumped out to a hot start as they led the Bulldogs far into the first half. But they couldn’t recover after back-to-back buckets by Williams.

After Williams drove inside the lane for the tough layup, guard Deshon Taylor chipped in defensively to steal an Aztec inbound pass to set up Williams again for the bucket.

Taylor’s willingness to hustle on every possession gave the ‘Dogs the fire needed to put away the Aztecs.

Fresno State went on a 15-2 run halfway through the first half behind high-percentage shots and tough defense. They forced the Aztecs into more than 10 turnovers in the opening half and 16 in the entire game.

The Bulldog turnovers were turned into points, amassing an 11-point lead heading into halftime. Their ability to score continued in the second half – especially for Hopkins. He chipped in 17 of his points in the second half in what was a 60 percent shooting performance from the Bulldogs as a team.

After Taylor took a charge on Aztec freshman Jalen Mcdaniels, senior Terrell Carter II pushed the Bulldogs lead to eight, 28-20.

With four minutes remaining, the Bulldogs had found their rhythm both offensively and defensively. Tough defense led to four forced turnovers in a span of three minutes, which discombobulated the Aztecs.

The visitors turned the ball over 10 times, leading to a big play by senior Ray Bowles Jr late in the half.

After San Diego State broke the run with a layup inside, the Bulldogs put the exclamation point on the half after Bowles Jr. picked off an errant Aztec pass and took it coast-to-coast for the transition dunk. The Bulldogs boasted a 15-2 run with less than three minutes remaining.

Fresno State continues their march to the postseason with another MWC matchup, this time a Valentine’s date with the Spartans of San Jose.