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Dogs splash Falcons

Bulldogs dominate in Quarterfinals, down Air Force 76-50

NCAA Basketball: Mountain West Conference Tournament-Fresno State vs Air Force Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

In the nightcap of the MW Conference Tournament, the Bulldogs came in looking to get revenge on the Air Force Academy Falcons. After dropping the one regular season meeting between the two, the Dogs knew that their chances at the NCAA tournament hinged on winning this game. And win they did. Air Force did actually jump out to a lead in the early going, leading 13-6 after about 5 minutes. From there on in, it was all Dogs, all the time. They answered that early 7 point deficit with a 21-1 run, holding the Falcons scoreless for almost 10 minutes. They did it by applying full court pressure, and forcing turnover after turnover.

A week after dropping in 23 shots from outside the arc against SJSU, Fresno State continued that pace against Air Force. What made this game different was where the shots were coming from. Instead of the usual suspects of Deshon Taylor and Braxton Huggins, the outside shots were coming from New Williams and Aguir Agui. Agui came into the game with only 6 triples on the season, then proceeded to sink 4 of them tonight. While they didn’t quite shoot the absurd 60% from 3 like they did in their last game, they still managed to get 42% of their shots from deep to go, which is definitely respectable.

If there was one negative to the game, it was that Braxton Huggins had a really off night. If I’m being charitable, I’ll say he averaged 17 points in his last two games. But he went 0/10 from the floor tonight, and just could not get his shots to fall. There was 2 shots that were in the cylinder, but somehow spun their way out. I’m sure it’s just a blip, and he’ll be back to normal tonight for the Semifinal game.

On the flip side though, Deshon Taylor got his first double double of the season. He hit his average 18 points, but was instrumental in the assist game, setting up his teammates 11 times during the game. The team as a whole had 23 assists, and managed to get 13 steals in the game. Definitely a complete team effort for the Bulldogs.

Fresno State managed to stretch their lead all the way out to 31 points during the second half, and were really in cruise control in the second half. Air Force threatened early in the half, getting the lead down to 11, but the Dogs quickly put a stop to that, and kept the Falcons at more than arm’s length the rest of the night. Personally, I would have pulled the starters out a bit earlier, but it looked like it would have been pretty hard to get Deshon Taylor off the court. He was truly a man on a mission tonight to lead this team back into the Semi-Finals for the third time in the last 4 years. Justin Hutson also broke his tie with Jerry Tarkanian by winning his 23rd game in his first season in Fresno. I’m sure he’d like to rack up a few more wins before the season is all over.

Next up, the Bulldogs will face the Utah State Aggies in Friday night’s nightcap game. The two teams split the season series, each winning by 1 point on the other’s home court. The Aggies will be looking to secure their position in the NCAA tournament, while the Dogs will look to be a bid stealer by upsetting Utah State. All I know is that if it’s anything like the two games these teams already played, it will be an all-out brawl until the final buzzer.