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Junior Feather staffer calls Bulldog/Air Force game from media table

Richie Cortez, ’20, continues to develop his radio broadcast skills at Fresno State Bulldogs games this season. For his last report, read Richie Cortez shares behind-the-scenes coverage at Fresno State game

Roller coaster ride for the ‘Dogs

As Feather reporter Richie Cortez, ’20, calls the Bulldogs game verses Air Force from the media table, Fresno State’s Sam Bittner calls a play from the top of the key, Feb. 20.

This past week the Fresno State men’s basketball team went through some obstacles. Last week I was fortunate enough to go watch the ‘Dogs take on Air Force Falcons, Feb. 20. With Air Force coming into town, many supporters assumed Fresno would win. Fresno State was tied for second in the Mountain West standings. Even though Air Force was not a top-ranked opponent, it was still a crucial game for the ‘Dogs.

Mountain West drama

While Fresno State was taking on the Falcons at home, Utah State was playing New Mexico at home. (Utah State and Fresno State were tied for second right behind Nevada Wolf Pack.) San Diego State was also a contender in the Mountain West Division, the same night they played Nevada.

The ‘Dogs needed the Wolf Pack to beat San Diego State. However, Fresno could not make the most out of their opportunities in the first half. The ‘Dogs scored a season low twenty points in the first half, going 6/25 in field goal percentage and Air Force 9/27 in the first half. The game was not well-played by either side. The ‘Dogs and Falcons struggled in the first half from the arc. Air Force shot 31% from the three-point line and the Bulldogs shot just 27% from downtown. Going into halftime, it was still anybody’s game.

Air Force: Second half recap

Coming out of halftime with Fresno State, Air Force was down, 23-20. Something had to pick up. The Falcons seemed to have good pressure off the ball and nothing was connecting for Fresno State. The ‘Dogs seemed to be panicking a bit. Air Force had the biggest lead of the night, up by 17 points; the Bulldogs just couldn’t hit anything from the arc or mid range. They would only connect if someone would drive to the basket and that was something they lacked the entire night: aggression. If State played more aggressive off the ball defensively and drive into the paint, there could have been a different outcome.

Air Force was in the lead for most of the game but State was able to show signs of life at the end of the game. Coming back down by five in the closing minutes, State put something together. The ‘Dogs would come up just short with a missed three-point shot by Bulldog forward Braxton Huggins, hitting the rim and ending the night with Air Force winning, 64-61. The ‘Dogs finished the night shooting 44% and Air Force shooting 48%. With this loss the ‘Dogs were at a very uncomfortable position in the Mountain West standings. With the hopes of Nevada beating San Diego State, Fresno needed to look on to next game taking on the the top of the table, Nevada Wolf Pack.

In the following podcast sports journalist Richie Cortez gives the report at the end of both first and second half and the post game press conference featuring Coach Justin Hutson.

A run for third in the Mountain West

Unfortunately for Fresno State, Nevada fell short of a victory to the Aztecs with a final score of 65-57. With Nevada losing to San Diego State, the Aztecs were inching closer to the Bulldogs, now a game behind Fresno State. Utah State would also go on to win against New Mexico with Neemias Queta scoring 23 to carry Utah State over New Mexico with a final score of 71-55. Now the Bulldogs were sitting in a third place spot with the loss and Utah State winning giving them the upper hand to move higher into second in the standings being three games ahead. 

Saturday night the Bulldogs took on No. 12 Nevada and kept it close into halftime. Heading into halftime the dogs needed some life to pause the momentum of Nevada. Nevada hasn’t lost at home and with a record of 24-2 at the time and a sold out Lawlor Events Center got the pack rolling through the first half. With four minutes left in the first half of play, Jazz Johnson hits his third three of the night to put the pack up by two. The second half was a back and forth match. The Pack always had an answer for the Dogs and vice versa. At the end of the first half the pack was on top 42-39 over Fresno State.

Richie Cortez | The Feather Online

Guard Braxton Huggins drives to the paint for a scoop and score during the Bulldog’s 64-61 loss to Air Force. Fresno State next hosts Wyoming, Feb. 27, at the Save Mart Center, 7 p.m.

In the final seconds of the game, Deshon Taylor hits a three in the corner with Thurman’s hand in his face. The very next drive Jazz Johnson dishes it out to Thurman, he fakes the shot drives into the paint and slams it home to give the pack a 70-65 lead over the ‘Dogs. With this play, it excited the crowd and Nevada had momentum finishing the game. The final score with Nevada coming out on top 74-68.

Tonight, Feb. 27, the ‘Dogs play at home with another Mountain West opponent, Wyoming. The Cowboys are coming into the Save Mart Center with a record of 6-21. This game, the one against San Diego State on March 6 and the one verses San Jose State on March 9 are now must wins for Fresno State.

If they are able to take down Wyoming, the ‘Dogs will travel down to San Diego to take on the Aztecs who have won five of their last six games. Fresno State will play the Aztecs on Mar. 6 

San Jose State matchup

San Jose State will come into town with a record of 4-23 with their win on Wednesday against New Mexico, this is the Spartan’s first win against a Mountain West opponent this season. They are now 1-14 against Mountain West teams. 

Check back next week when the Bulldogs take on the San Jose State Spartans, March 9. For more of Cortez’s interviews, check out Richie Cortez discusses Bekah Micu’s return from injury and Richie Cortez discusses FC soccer with senior Jacob Scully.

Richie Cortez can be reached via Twitter @richie_cortez9 and via email.

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