Free throw disparity dooms Fresno St against SDSU
SAN DIEGO (AP) -- Fresno State did everything it needed to do to upset No. 10 San Diego State except get to the free throw line.
Xavier Thames scored 28 points and Winston Shepard keyed a 12-2 run for the Aztecs, who rallied to beat the Bulldogs 68-60 Wednesday night for their 14th straight win.
SDSU won it at the line. Fresno State was whistled for 25 fouls and the Aztecs made 26 of 41 free throws. SDSU was called for only 14 fouls and Fresno State was 11 of 15 from the line.
The stat sheet showed the teams played evenly, except for SDSU taking 26 more free throws and making 15 more.
"You got that right," Fresno State coach Rodney Terry said with a chuckle. "You know, give them credit. They were able to make more than they missed and it gave them a chance to win a close ballgame."
Terry said the Bulldogs weren't physical in a 76-57 loss at Colorado State but were against the Aztecs.
"We had to match them physically on the glass and I thought we did that for the better part of the game," he said. "At the end of the day you've got to make plays and finish possessions -- that's what they were able to do tonight."
The Aztecs (15-1, 4-0 Mountain West), who often looked ragged, won their 38th consecutive game against a team from California. On Monday, SDSU reached its highest AP ranking since it was No. 6 on March 14, 2011.
Tyler Johnson had 24 points and 11 rebounds for Fresno State (8-10, 1-4), which lost for the fourth time in five games.
San Diego State set a school record for fewest turnovers in a game with four.
The Aztecs' 12-2 run started after Allen Huddleston hit a 3-pointer with 10:50 to go to give Fresno State a 46-44 lead. Matt Shrigley made the front end of a 1-and-1 and then hit a 3-pointer from the top of the key to give SDSU a 48-46 advantage. Thames added a 3 for a five-point lead before Johnson made a 17-foot jumper for the Bulldogs.
Shepard then took over with a spin move and a bank shot followed by a three-point play, after he was fouled on a goaltending call, for a 56-48 lead, SDSU's biggest.
Shepard scored 17 points and Josh Davis had 13 rebounds.
The Aztecs' only scoring in the final 8 minutes was from the free throw line, where they made 13 of 17. Their last field goal came when Shepard was fouled on the goaltending call with 8:01 left.
"I don't know what we could have done differently," Terry said. "We got in front of them and challenged their shots."
Fresno State led for most of the final 8½ minutes in the first half thanks to a 27-13 run. Johnson hit consecutive 3-pointers early in the spurt and Huddleston also made a shot from behind the arc.
SDSU bounced back behind Thames, who scored eight of his team's final 10 points in the half. Thames hit the first of two free throws, then had a three-point play and a 3-pointer with 38 seconds left that gave SDSU a 31-29 lead.
Marvelle Harris made a 3 with 14 seconds remaining to give the Bulldogs a 32-31 halftime edge.
"I'm proud of the effort," Terry said. "We just have to bottle it up and bring it every night."