SAN DIEGO -(Fresno State) In a critical road-trip ending contest, the Fresno State men's basketball team used a second-half surge and fended off the Toreros for a 74-70 victory on Tuesday night in Jenny Craig Pavilion.
After a slow start, Fresno State (2-5) picked up steam in the final minutes of the first half and rode it to the wire for a non-conference victory against the West Coast's San Diego (1-7).
Sophomore Greg Smith scored a season-high 20 points and pulled down eight rebounds as he showed his full low post display on offense and defense. Three other Bulldogs reached double figures in scoring: Garrett Johnson (15), Tim Steed (12) and Bracken Funk (10).
"Greg Smith is still learning how to play the game, but he played well tonight," head coach Steve Cleveland said of the preseason first-team All-WAC selection. "Anytime you can get a road win, it is good. We made plays when we needed to make plays."
The Dogs rebounded their way back from a 21-12 deficit to tie the game at 23-23 when Smith swiped a Torero pass in the backcourt and coasted for an uncontested slam dunk. The flush sparked a 9-5 half-closing run that helped Fresno State grab a 30-28 lead through the first 20 minutes.
The Bulldogs rode the wave to a 51-39 edge halfway through the second half before USD caught fire. Over the next three minutes, the Toreros went on a 15-3 stretch to even the tilt at 54-54 with 7:07 remaining in the game.
A back and forth effort ensued until Fresno State held off USD in the Bulldogs' closest game of the year.
On an inbound pass with 28 seconds remaining with the Dogs up 71-68, G. Johnson caught a pass from Wills at midcourt, then sprinted to make a lay-up and converted an old-fashioned three-point play after getting fouled from behind to seal the victory.
The Bulldogs dominated the glass with a 37-30 advantage in the rebounding category and edged USD 19-15 in second chance points.
Fresno State will next face Pepperdine on Saturday night at 7 p.m. in Fresno to start a five-game holiday homestand.