FRESNO, Calif. (AP) — San Diego State has gone on a tear since losing consecutive games at Utah State in mid-January.
The Aztecs knew they had to in order to save their season.
Jordan Schakel scored 14 points — 12 on 3-pointers in the first half — and No. 25 San Diego State beat Fresno State 75-57 Saturday night for its eighth straight victory.
Matt Mitchell and Terrell Gomez had 13 points apiece for the Aztecs (17-4, 11-3 Mountain West), whose tight defense frustrated the Bulldogs most of the night.
“I think everyone on this team, especially the more veteran guys, we knew every game after Utah State was a must win, and it still is,” Schakel said. “Two games left in the regular season, and after that it’s lose or you go home. That’s really a must win.
“We all just knew we had to go on a run like that.”
The Aztecs, who are the defending regular-season MWC champions, host first-place Boise State in a big two-game series Thursday and Saturday. The Aztecs are still waiting to find out if a series against UNLV that was postponed earlier this season will be played in the week before the conference tournament.
The Aztecs are tied for second with Colorado State and are even with Boise State in the loss column. The Aztecs were 3-3 and tied for fifth place on Jan. 19.
SDSU coach Brian Dutcher was pleased with the effort on the road.
“I told them before the game, we’re wired the right way,” Dutcher said. “We’re wired hard. It’s not easy winning on the road but we’re wired because of the way we practice and the way we prepare, that we’re ready for these moments.”
Schakel was 5 for 5 from the field, including 4 for 4 on 3-pointers. Gomez was 3 for 3 from behind the arc. SDSU was 8 for 12 on 3-pointers and shot 61% overall from the floor.
Schakel had eight rebounds and just missed his first career double-double.
Deon Stroud scored 17 and Orlando Robinson 16 for Fresno State (9-9, 7-9).
San Diego State opened with a 9-0 run and notched another dominating win in its streak. Its average margin of victory in the eight games is 26.4 points.
The Aztecs’ defense was particularly impressive in the second half. Schakel had a steal and layup for a 52-34 lead and Mitchell later had a steal and layup for a 57-36 lead.
Keshad Johnson had two impressive slam dunks in the second half.
“I thought our fight was still there,” Bulldogs coach Justin Hutson said. “Now, it’s not always consistent. I thought we generated better shots. They just didn’t go in. But our transition defense was horrendous. I think that usually comes from young guys missing shots. Got to be a little bit more mature and get back to the top.”
Hutson said his players got discouraged when they missed open looks, “and if you get discouraged, then at that point they came down and moved the ball and got a lot of 3s in transition, and give them the credit, they nailed them.”
Schakel was 4 for 4 from behind the arc for 12 points to help SDSU take a 36-26 halftime lead. He hit two 3-pointers in the opening minutes during SDSU’s 9-0 run.
SDSU had a 21-8 lead before Fresno State went on a 10-0 run, keyed by 3-pointers by Stroud and Leo Colimerio to pull within three.
SDSU: The Aztecs have been dominant in sweeping four straight MWC series. They haven’t trailed in the second half of any game and their closest margin was a 14-point win against the Bulldogs on Thursday night.
Fresno State: The Bulldogs have lost 28 straight games to AP Top 25 teams. Their last win against a ranked team was a 58-52 defeat of Oklahoma State on Feb. 10, 2002.
San Diego State hosts MWC leader Boise State on Thursday night in the opener of a two-game series.
Fresno State is at UNLV on Wednesday night in the opener of a two-game series.
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