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Merrill, Porter lead No. 25 Utah State past Fresno State

By Joseph Coles, Associated Press | Updated - Dec. 7, 2019 at 7:12 p.m. | Posted - Dec. 7, 2019 at 6:54 p.m.

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LOGAN, Utah (AP) — Sam Merrill had 24 points and eight rebounds and Abel Porter scored seven of his 13 points in overtime as No. 25 Utah State beat Fresno State 77-70 on Saturday night.

Justin Bean added 14 points and Neemias Queta chipped in six points in 10 minutes, in his first action of the season for Utah State (9-1, 2-0 Mountain West).

New Williams scored 26 points and hit the basket that forced overtime for Fresno State (2-6, 0-2).

The Aggies turned it on in overtime, outscoring Fresno State 16-9. Utah State allowed just two field goals in overtime.

A wild final two minutes of regulation set up overtime.

After Nate Grimes hit a layup that cut the Aggies’ lead to one point, Diogo Brito hit a 3-pointer to give Utah State a four-point lead with 1:43 left in regulation.

On the next possession, Williams hit a 3-pointer for the Bulldogs to keep Fresno State in the game. After a traveling call on Utah State gave Fresno State the ball with 19 seconds left, Bean stole the inbound pass. Brito was fouled and made a pair of free throws to put Utah State up by three points and set up a final possession for the Bulldogs.

Williams banked in a last-second 3-pointer from well-beyond the arc, with the shot rattling around the rim before dropping through the net and sending the game into overtime.

After Merrill made a layup to give Utah State a 33-32 lead with 16 minutes left in the second half, Fresno State went on a 9-0 run over the next four minutes to take a 41-33 advantage. Williams scored all nine points in the run. The Aggies’ scoring drought lasted nearly five minutes before Brito ended it with a three-point play. Robinson scored on a jumper, but Utah State countered with a 6-0 run to get back into the game with eight minutes remaining.

It was seesaw matchup in the first half, with neither team shooting well. Utah State shot just 26.7% from the field in the first period, with Fresno State shooting 31.3%. The teams struggled with their long distance shooting as the Aggies went 1 of 10 and the Bulldogs 3 of 16.

Utah State led 27-24 at halftime.


Utah State star sophomore center Neemias Queta played his first minutes of the season against Fresno State. Queta, who averaged 11.8 points and 8.9 rebounds last year as a freshman for the Aggies, was recovering from a knee injury. Queta checked in at the 10-minute mark of the first half to a standing ovation from the Spectrum crowd. Queta scored his first two points of the season on free throws with nine minutes in the first half.


Fresno State: The Bulldogs hung with the Aggies thanks to a great performance by New Williams, but lost their fourth straight game — and second straight overtime game.

Utah State: The Aggies won their second straight game as Sam Merrill had an excellent game and Neemias Queta played his first minutes of the season.


Fresno State: The Bulldogs continue their three-game road trip in Berkeley next Wednesday, taking on California.

Utah State: The Aggies host Saint Katherine on Tuesday.


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Joseph Coles

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