Neemias Queta continues to climb in record books as USU posts 69-53 victory at Fresno State

FILE - Utah State head coach Craig Smith, left, greets Utah State's Marco Anthony during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against Utah State, Wednesday, Jan. 27, 2021, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)

FRESNO, Calif. – Utah State men’s basketball used another stifling defensive effort to post a 69-53 victory at Fresno State on Thursday night, moving to 14-5 on the year and 11-2 in the Mountain West. The Aggies have now held opponents to fewer than 60 points nine times in league play and 10 time this season.

Junior center Neemias Queta has been the key to the Utah State defense, as he finished with five blocks and moved to third in a single season in Utah State history with 58 on the year. Queta is chasing his own school record of 84 that he set during his freshman campaign in 2018-19.

In addition to his defense, Queta also led the Aggies on the offensive end, scoring a game-high 14 points and adding a game-high-tying five boards, increasing his career total to 696 rebounds and moving him to No. 15 all-time in school history. Queta was joined in double figures by senior forward Alphonso Anderson with 13 and freshman guard Steven Ashworth with 10. Both Anderson and Ashworth came off the bench for the Aggies as the Utah State reserves totaled 32 points in the game, the most since a 35-point performance against New Mexico on Jan. 8.

Utah State led for all but 30 seconds in the game after a Queta layup gave the Aggies the opening points of the contest. A 3-point bucket by the Bulldogs gave the home side its only lead of the game, 17-16, with 9:07 to play in the first half. The triple was answered on the very next possession by the Aggies, when Ashworth connected on the first of his two from downtown during the opening half to put the Aggies up 19-17 with 8:37 to play.

Utah State’s lead grew to as much as eight during the first 20 minutes, as redshirt junior guard Marco Anthony converted an and-1 to give the Aggies a 31-23 lead with a little over two minutes to play. Another old-fashioned 3-point play by the Bulldogs trimmed the Utah State lead to four at the break, 33-29.

Queta capped an 11-0 run by Utah State midway through the second half with a layup to give the Aggies a 51-35 lead with 11:28 to play. Anderson’s and-1 with 6:45 to play gave the Aggies their largest lead of the game, 62-42, as the game never got any closer than 16 down the stretch.

Utah State finished the game shooting 50.0 percent (26-of-52) from the floor, 42.9 percent (6-of-14) from behind the 3-point line and 73.3 percent (11-of-15) at the free throw line. The Aggies have now shot 50 percent or better from the floor in seven games this year and are a perfect 7-0 in each of those contests.

Fresno State was led in scoring by Christian Gray with nine points, marking the first time an opponent has not had a double-digit scorer against the Aggies this season. The Bulldogs finished the game shooting 37.0 percent (20-of-54) from the floor, 21.1 percent (4-of-19) from behind the 3-point line and 69.2 percent (9-of-13) at the free throw line.

The teams return to the court on Saturday, tipping the second game of the two-game set at 8 p.m. (MT) on Fox Sports 1 (Comcast Ch. 265/HD691, DirecTV Ch. 219, DISH Ch. 150).

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