FRESNO, Calif. – It almost seemed like deja vu on Saturday night as the Aggies went into the half down by 10 points at Fresno State, scoring a season-low 17 points over the opening 20 minutes. But, Utah State had been there before, scoring a then-season-low 22 points against San Diego State and trailing by 10 at the half on Jan. 16, only to come back and post a 57-45 victory over the Aztecs. USU matched the 57 points on Saturday night, scoring 40 points over the final 20 minutes to post a 57-51 victory over the Bulldogs in the 2020-21 regular season finale.
With the victory, Utah State secured the No. 2 seed for the upcoming Mountain West Tournament for the third consecutive year.
Utah State junior forward Justin Bean (13 pts/12 rebs) and junior center Neemias Queta (13 pts/11 rebs) led the way for the Aggies during the game against Fresno State, finishing with their fourth- and sixth-consecutive double-double, respectively. Senior forward Alphonso Anderson joined the duo in double figures, finishing with 11 points and knocking down a 3-point bucket with 1:34 on the clock to give the Aggies the lead for good.
Utah State couldn’t find an offensive groove in the first half, shooting 25.0 percent (6-of-24) from the floor and 14.3 percent (1-of-7) from behind the 3-point line. USU also had eight turnovers over the opening 20 minutes and were minus-2 on the boards as Fresno State took a 27-17 advantage into the half.
It was a different story in the second half as Utah State opened the final stanza on an 11-2 run, capped by a 3-ball by freshman guard Rollie Worster, to trim the 10-point halftime deficit to one, 29-28, after the first five minutes. Another triple by freshman guard Steven Ashworth with 9:54 on the clock put USU up 40-39 and gave the Aggies their first lead since the 16:47 mark in the first half.
The game was back-and-forth for the rest of the second half until Anderson’s 3-point bucket with 1:34 on the clock gave the Aggies a 50-48 lead and an advantage that wouldn’t be relinquished. Free throws by Anderson, Worster and Queta over the final 20 seconds of the game wrapped up the 57-51 victory for the Aggies.
Utah State flipped the switch offensive in the second half, shooting 53.6 percent (15-of-28) from the floor and 62.5 percent (5-of-8) from behind the 3-point line to finish the game shooting 40.4 percent (21-of-52) from the floor, 40.0 percent (6-of-15) from the 3-point line and 56.3 percent (9-of-16) at the charity stripe.
Fresno State was led in scoring by Isaiah Hill with a game-high 16 points, while Orlando Robinson logged a double-double with 12 points and 11 rebounds. The Bulldogs finished the game shooting 34.6 percent (18-of-52) from the floor, 31.8 percent (7-of-22) from behind the 3-point line and 88.9 percent (8-of-9) at the free throw line.
Utah State opens its back-to-back MW Tournament title defense on Thursday, March 11, at 7 p.m. (MT), facing the winner of #7 UNLV and #10 Air Force in the quarterfinals. A victory would move the Aggies on to the semifinals on Friday, March 12, at 10 p.m. (MT). Both of those games can be seen on the CBS Sports Network (Xfinity Ch. 269/753 HD, Dish Ch. 158, DirevTV Ch. 221), while the MW Championship game will be on CBS on Saturday, March 13, at 4 p.m. (MT).