Utah State edges Fresno State in battle for 2nd in MWC

Utah State's Neemias Queta, left, dribbles around around Fresno State's Nate Grimes during an NCAA college basketball game in Fresno, Calif., on Tuesday, Feb. 5, 2019. (Craig Kohlruss/The Fresno Bee via AP)

FRESNO, Calif. (AP) — Sam Merrill scored 20 points and freshman Neemias Queta had 18 points and 15 rebounds to help Utah State hold off Fresno State 82-81 on Tuesday night in a battle for second place in the Mountain West Conference.

Utah State’s Quinn Taylor, right, drives around Fresno State’s Sam Bittner during an NCAA college basketball game in Fresno, Calif., Tuesday, Feb. 5, 2019. (Craig Kohlruss/The Fresno Bee via AP)

Sam Bittner nailed a 3-pointer to give Fresno State a 67-64 lead with 8:22 left to play. Abel Porter pulled the Aggies (18-5, 8-2 MWC) even with a 3-pointer, added 1 of 2 free throws, Queta followed with a dunk and Brock Miller hit from deep 3 to cap a 9-0 run that gave Utah State the lead for good. Noah Blackwell’s 3-pointer cut the Bulldogs’ deficit to 80-78 with three seconds left, but Merrill sank two free throws to make it a two-possession game before Deshon Taylor hit a 3 at the buzzer.

Miller, a freshman, hit five 3-pointers and scored 17 for Utah State.

Braxton Huggins topped Fresno State (16-6, 7-3) with 26 points and six rebounds.

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