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Monday, May 16, 2022

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San Diego State men’s basketball beat Fresno State 65-64 on senior night at Viejas Arena. (Credit: Derrick Tuskan/San Diego State) San Diego State men’s basketball beat Fresno State 65-64 on senior night at Viejas Arena. (Credit: Derrick Tuskan/San Diego State)
 


Aztecs Win Double-OT Thriller on Senior Night

SDSU men edge Fresno State in dramatic victory to notch their fifth consecutive 20-win season
By GoAztecs
 

SAN DIEGO – San Diego State celebrated Senior Night festivities with a thrilling 65-64 victory over Fresno State in double overtime on Thursday in front of a sellout crowd at Viejas Arena.

Matt Bradley recorded his first double-double in an Aztec uniform with a team-high 24 points and 10 rebounds, helping SDSU (20-7, 12-4 MW) secure its fifth straight 20-win season.  Conversely, the Bulldogs (18-11, 8-8 MW) had their modest two-game winning streak snapped.

In addition, the Aztecs received nine points apiece from Keshad Johnson and Trey Pulliam, while Tahirou Diabate grabbed a season-high seven rebounds, including five on the offensive glass.

Bradley accounted for SDSU's winning margin after sinking two free throws with 2:17 left in the second overtime period. Neither team scored for the remainder of the game, as the Aztecs survived some nervous moments down the stretch.

Johnson blocked Isaiah Hill's jumper in the paint with 14 seconds remaining. However, Pulliam missed two free throws following a backcourt foul, setting the stage for one final shot. After pushing the ball to halfcourt, Fresno State quickly called timeout with seven ticks on the clock. Unfazed, the SDSU defense held firm, forcing an off-target three-point attempt from Hill as the horn sounded.

The teams were locked in a defensive battle for most of the game, combining for five ties and 12 lead changes. Neither side was efficient from the floor, as the Aztecs connected on 36.1 percent of their field-goal attempts (22-61), compared to the Bulldogs' 33.9 percent clip (19-56).

SDSU built a pair of 10-point leads in the first half, including a 20-10 spread following a Bradley triple at the 9:52 mark. However, Fresno State responded with eight straight points over the next 4:21 to crawl back into contention, as the Scarlet and Black missed five shots and committed two turnovers during that span.  

The Bulldogs cut the margin to one on three occasions but could not seize the upper hand. After two Braxton Meah free throws pulled the visitors to within 25-24, Johnson's bucket in the lane with 53 seconds remaining gave the Aztecs a 27-24 advantage heading into the locker room.

SDSU led by as many as seven points in the second half but could not give itself further separation. Still, the Aztecs owned a 39-34 bulge after Pulliam hit a jumper at the 12:34 mark.

Fresno State responded with a 12-2 blitz over the next 5:24 to build its biggest lead of the night at 46-41 by the 7:10 mark. Jordan Campbell and Anthony Holland accounted for all the points in the run as each played drained a pair of triples.

SDSU was plagued by inconsistency at the free-throw line down the stretch, missing four shots from the charity stripe. However, the Aztecs still managed to fight back, reclaiming a 52-49 advantage with 1:17 left in regulation after Bradley connected on a pair of baskets.

Orlando Robinson hit a layup on the Bulldogs' next foray down the court to narrow the gap with 43 seconds to go, but Pulliam answered with a floater 13 seconds later to give the host school a precarious 54-51 lead.

Whatever fears the festive crowd were soon realized when Junior Ballard hit a three-pointer with goose eggs on the scoreboard to send the game into overtime.

In the first extra period, SDSU maintained a slim 60-57 lead, but Robinson's old-fashioned three-point play knotted the score with 47 seconds to go. Fresno State had another chance to win at the buzzer, but Deon Stroud's three-point attempt went awry, as the scoreboard reset to five more minutes for the second overtime.

The Bulldogs had three players reach double figures, including a career-high 19 points from Campbell, while Robinson notched a double-double with 17 points of his own to go with 11 rebounds. Not to be outdone, Holland finished with 14 points of his own on 4-for-7 shooting from beyond the arc.

Prior to Thursday's game, seniors Aguek Arop, Diabate, Nathan Mensah, Pulliam and Joshua Tomaic were honored in a special ceremony at center court for their contributions to the Aztec basketball program.

San Diego State wraps up its regular season slate on Saturday when it travels to the Silver State to battle Nevada, starting at 7:30 p.m. PT. The Aztecs-Wolf Pack clash will air on CBS Sports Network.