Aztecs' Late Run Holds Off Bears' Challenge, 60-44
Nov. 17, 2012
SPRINGFIELD, Mo. - Despite holding 25th-ranked San Diego State to 32.2 percent shooting, the Missouri State Bears couldn't overcome a strong defensive effort by the Aztecs in a 60-44 setback Saturday afternoon at JQH Arena. In a back-and-forth game of offensive runs for both clubs, SDSU saved its biggest spurt for crunch time, sealing the victory with a 19-5 scoring outburst after the Bears had trimmed the margin to four points with just over seven minutes to play.
The Aztecs got back-to-back 3-pointers from James Rahon and Chases Tapley to start their critical scoring run that would ultimately turn a 41-37 game into an 18-point cushion in the closing minutes. Jamaal Franklin scored seven of his game-high 22 points during the late run that the Bears could not answer.
San Diego State powered its late push with a strong defensive effort that limited the Bears to just .281 (16-of-57) shooting from the floor for the game and held the home team without a field goal for more than five minutes down the stretch. The Aztecs also gashed the Bears on the boards to the tune of a 52-34 edge in total rebounding, including 21 on the offensive glass to help offset a lackluster shooting performance.
The Bears showed few jitters early on against the nationally-ranked Aztecs, using 3-pointers by Dorrian Williams and Keith Pickens to build a six-point lead by the first media timeout. But San Diego State's defense would clamp down to hold MSU scoreless over a five-minute span to allow the visitors time to erase their deficit. JJ O'Brien's field goal at the 11:59 mark made it an 8-8 game, but the Bears took advantage of an administrative technical foul assessed to the Aztec bench two minutes later to kick off a 6-0 run of their own. Anthony Downing knocked down both free throws to put MSU back on top, and Pickens converted a reverse layup before a Nathan Scheer steal led to a Downing bucket for a 14-8 Bears advantage.
After Drew Wilson's follow of a Williams miss put the Bears up 16-10 with 8:29 to play in the half, the Aztecs would go to work to take control of the game. DeShawn Stephens basket with 7:40 to go started the 9-0 run and Jamaal Franklin ended it two-and-a-half minutes later with an 18-footer for a 19-16 Aztec lead.
MSU briefly evened things up with another Williams 3-pointer, but Xavier James's field goal with 3:29 left on the clock started another SDSU burst. The Aztecs would get a pair of treys from Franklin and James Rahon to ultimately take a 29-20 lead--their biggest of the day--into the lockerroom.
The Aztecs, which hit on just 4-of-22 (.182) attempts from beyond the arc, overcame an 0-for-10 start from 3-point range to knock down a pair of crucial threes in the closing minutes of the half to take control of the scoreboard with a 10-1 run, turning a tie game into a 29-20 lead at the break--their largest advantage of the opening period.
Both teams struggled to find offensive consistency from the floor in the first 20 minutes, as the Aztecs finished the half 11-of-36 (.306), while the Bears shot just 25 percent (7-of-28).
San Diego State stretched its lead to double-digits three different times in the first three minutes of the second stanza, but the Bears had an answer each time stay within striking distance. After an O'Brien tip-in at the 17:26 mark made it a 36-26 game, MSU would answer with a Christian Kirk basket and a Downing jumper from the left corner to slice the margin to six points with just over 13 minutes to go. The Bears wouldn't get closer until Downing's running one-hander with 7:21 left on the clock made it a 41-37 affair.
But Rahon's triple quickly turned the tide back in favor of the Aztecs, and Tapley's long jumper from the top of the key one minute later pushed the SDSU lead back to 10, and the Bears would get no closer the rest of the way.
With a game-high 12 boards to go along with his 22 points, Franklin led the way for San Diego State with a double-double, while Thames chipped in with 11 points and Rahon added 10.
Downing finished with 16 points to lead the Bears, who fell to 1-1 on the season.
Up next, the Bears will take on Jacksonville Monday evening at 7:05 p.m. at JQH Arena. Tickets for the contest are available through MissouriStateTix.com, the Chevy Pickup Window at JQH Arena and by phone at (417) 836-7678 during regular box office hours.