Photo credit: @FresnoStateMBB
By: Ana Kieu
The San Jose State’s men’s basketball team wrapped up 2019 with a road game at the Fresno State Bulldogs in Save Mart Center Saturday.
Just moments before the tip-off, Spartans head coach Jean Prioleau announced his starting lineup of Michael Steadman, Zach Chappell, Noah Baumann, Seneca Knight, and Ashtin Chastain.
The rivalry game started a little later than expected due to the fact the Bulldogs honored their three seniors–Braxton Huggins, Deshon Taylor, and Sam Bittner–on Senior Night.
The Bulldogs won the tip and the game went underway. SJSU got on the board first, but Huggins hit back-to-back three-pointers to give Fresno State a 6-3 lead at the 17:45 mark. With those threes, Fresno State tied their new school record with 303 threes and counting this season.
Huggins continued his dominance with seven three-pointers with 8:30 left. The Spartans trailed 35-26, which was unfortunate given the fact they held ties and mere leads up until this point. Huggins had a game-high 21 points and gave the Bulldogs a 37-26 lead with 7:44 left. Meanwhile, SJSU shot 10-of-14 with less than seven minutes left.
Taylor made a pair of free throws to make it a 40-27 game in favor of Fresno State with 6:36 left. Fast forward to the timeout, where the Bulldogs led 43-34 at the Bulldogs’ timeout with 4:31 left. The Spartans later stormed off to the locker room with a 59-40 deficit at halftime. Though, SJSU outshot Fresno State by seven percent, so that was one of the silver linings. The other silver lining was the Spartans’ leading scorers in Knight and Steadman–both of whom scored 11 points each.
As if there wasn’t already enough Huggins in the first half, Huggins opened the scoring with quite a few attention-grabbing shots in the second half.
SJSU trailed 73-47 at the 16:18 mark. Fresno State’s trap got to SJSU and that eventually led to Prioleau putting Brian Rodriguez-Flores, a walk-on guard from Phoenix, in the Spartans’ lineup just minutes before the 10-minute mark. Rodriguez-Flores, however, didn’t provide much assistance to the Spartans, who were overwhelmed by the Bulldogs, who made it rain with threes. Noah Blackwell set the record for most threes in conference play in MWC history. Also, Huggins tied the school record for most threes made in a single game.
Blackwell made a pair of free throws to extend the Bulldogs’ lead to 100-70 with 6:21 left. The Bulldogs had more records to chase in the Save Mart Center and that they did. Fresno State (22-8, 13-5 MW) refused to stop playing offensively and San Jose State (4-26, 1-17 MW) suffered a 121-81 loss to close out the regular season.
SJSU gears up to take on the #6 Air Force Falcons in the first round of the MWC Tournament in Las Vegas. Game three is set for Wednesday, March 13 at 4:00 pm PT. Follow me on Twitter @AnaKieu for live updates.