Utah State Buries Fresno State With Late Second-Half Run

Dec 31, 2022, 2:15 PM
utah state forward dan akin...
Utah State forward Dan Akin rises for a dunk in the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum during the 2022-23 season.

LOGAN, Utah – Utah State didn’t miss a beat, opening Mountain West play with a 67-54 win over the visiting Fresno State Bulldogs.

Utah State (12-2, 1-0) hosted the Fresno State Bulldogs (5-8, 1-1) in the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum on Saturday, December 31.

The Aggies are coming off of a third place finish in the Hawaiian Airlines Diamond Head Classic. USU handily defeated Seattle before falling to SMU in the second round. The Aggies rebounded from their second loss of the season to beat Washington State 82-73 on Christmas Day.

Fresno State opened up their conference slate with a 58-53 win at home against Wyoming earlier this week.

Zee Hamoda and Steven Ashworth led Utah State in scoring off the bench, each finishing with 13 points. Dan Akin had a double-double, finishing with 11 points and 13 rebounds.

Jemarl Baker Jr. led the Bulldogs in scoring with 20 points. Leo Colimero also reached double-figures, finishing with 10 points in the loss.

RELATED: Utah State Knocks Off Washington State, Mountain West Play On Horizon

First Half

Aggie center Trevin Dorius got free for the first basket of the game, a thunderous two-handed dunk off a dish from Rylan Jones.

Neither team could find their stroke from three in the opening minutes as they combined to miss their first five shots from beyond the arc.

The Bulldogs broke the seal first when Jemarl Baker Jr. hit a three to give Fresno State a 12-8 lead.

RELATED: Cold Shooting In Paradise Leads To Utah State Loss

Dan Akin came off the bench for Utah State and shifted momentum USU’s way with endless hustle.

Akin scored seven points and grabbed nine rebounds in the half. A menace in the paint, Akin also drew three fouls on Bulldog defenders, resulting in 5-of-5 shooting from the charity stripe.

Trailing 22-20, Zee Hamoda keyed a Utah State run. After knocking down his second three of the half, Hamoda created a turnover and finished at the other end with a layup to give USU a 25-22 lead.

The run ballooned to 11-0 after Sean Bairstow and Steven Ashworth hit threes, giving USU a 31-22 lead with 3:19 left in the half.

Baker ended the run at 13-0 with a driving layup over Hamoda.

Utah State would take a 33-26 lead into the half.

Hamoda’s eight points and Akin’s seven led USU scorers. Baker’s 11 points led all scorers for Fresno State.

Second Half

Utah State jumped out to a brief ten point lead after the break but the Bulldogs answered with a 6-0 run to stay within striking distance.

Fresno State kept chipping away early in the half, getting within one point at 42-41 with 11:31 left.

RELATED: Defense Keys Utah State Blowout Win Against Seattle

After a timeout, Baker’s second three of the afternoon gave the Bulldogs their first lead of the half.

Minutes later, trailing 46-44, Hamoda and Ashworth combined for a 10-0 run to give the Aggies an eight point lead, 54-46.

Fresno State missed seven of eight shots late in the half, allowing Utah State to turn a two point deficit into their largest lead of the game at 59-48.

The Aggies would go on to win 67-54.

Up Next

The Aggies head to Fort Collins, Colorado where they will face the Air Force Falcons (9-6, 0-2) on Tuesday, January 3. Tip-off for this game is scheduled for 7 p.m. (MST).

Every Utah State basketball game can be heard on the KSL Sports Zone with Scott Garrard on the call.

Coverage of Utah State University Athletics from KSL Sports can be found here. 

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