SDSU climbs to top of Mountain
Notes: No. 4 Toros see 10-game win streak come to an end
Brian Lester, NCAA.com
As his San Diego State team prepared to fly home Thursday morning after suffering a 71-58 loss to BYU Wednesday, head coach Steve Fisher couldn’t hide his disappointment.
Yet, time goes on and Fisher knew the season was far from over even though his team’s unbeaten run was finished after BYU star Jimmer Fredette poured in 43 against the Aztecs.
“We have to understand that there is another game to play,” Fisher said. “It should be easy to get that message across because we have a veteran team.”
His team received the message as it rolled past Wyoming 96-57 Saturday. The Aztecs hit a school record 17 treys to improve to 21-1 overall and 6-1 in the Mountain West Conference.
Fisher took over this program 12 years ago, back when no one cared about SDSU basketball. The Aztecs have become relevant on the national scene and have become one of the feel-good stories of the season.
“We‘ve gone from apathy to being the talk of the town,” Fisher said. “Everyone involved in the program takes a lot of pride in our success.”
Sophomore forward Kawhi Leonard has been the leading scorer, dropping in 15.3 points per outing, while senior guard D.J. Gay, one of five seniors on the squad, is scoring 12.3 points per game.
“We have good balance, but Gay is our leader,” Fisher said. “Everyone feeds off of him.”
Fisher believes the sky is the limit for the Aztecs. He knows about potential, having guided Michigan to the 1989 national championship.
“We have the talent to not only win a game in the tournament, but to make a run,” Fisher said. “Our first goal is to win the first NCAA tournament game in school history. From there, we’ll see how far we can go.”
Need to Know
• Cal State Dominguez Hills had a tough time on the road Saturday, falling 62-55 to Cal State Stanislaus in a California Collegiate Athletic Association game.
The win snapped a 10-game win streak for the fourth-ranked Toros, who shot 35 percent from the field. Cal State Stanislaus, which also has a win this year over Humboldt State, the current No. 22 team in the country, shot 24-of-28 from the free-throw line and got 15 points from Dwight Jones.
Cal State Stanislaus won for the sixth time in 14 league games this season. All six of its CCAA wins are at home. The Warriors are 8-10 overall. Marcquintice Davis finished with 14 points in a losing effort for the Toros, who lost for the first time since a 59-49 setback to Cal State Bernardino on Dec. 4.
• Duke had a trip to New York that it will want to forget quickly. The third-ranked Blue Devils were drilled 93-78 by St. John’s Sunday at Madison Square Garden, the first time in eight years that the Blue Devils have lost to the Red Storm.
St. John’s won for the third time in a stretch of eight games against nationally ranked opponents by building a commanding 46-25 lead at the half. St. John’s held the Blue Devils to one 3-pointer in the first half and forced them to shoot just 29.6 percent from the floor in the opening half.
Dwight Hardy poured in 26 points while Justin Brownlee scored 20 and grabbed nine rebounds. Nolan Smith dropped in 32 points for Duke, which is 25-15 all-time at Madison Square Garden.
• Trevor Pointer of Manhattanville scored a career-high 32 points and went over 1,000 for his career as his team knocked off King’s College 115-111 in double-overtime on Saturday.
Pointer highlighted the special day by nailing a game-winning 3-pointer with 27 seconds remaining as Manhattanville survived after leading by as many as 18 points in the second half.
• Spencer Johnson came up with his seventh double-double of the season Thursday, pouring in 15 points and pulling down 14 rebounds in UMKC’s 63-58 win against South Dakota State at Frost Arena. Johnson’s rebounding total tied Darecko Rawlins as the school’s all-time leading rebounder with 639 boards.
• Mike Taylor of George Fox had the program’s first triple-double in nearly 20 years as he led the Bruins to a 117-100 win against Willamette last week. Taylor lit up the scoreboard for 18 points while also grabbing 15 rebounds and dishing out 11 assists as he became the first player since 1992 to have a triple-double.
• While Arkansas Tech won its eighth consecutive game and remained unbeaten in the Gulf South Conference, senior guard Laithe Massey made school history, becoming only the second player for the Wonder Boys to have a triple-double. Massey finished with 17 points, a career-high 12 rebounds and 10 assists.
• Micah Williams reached the 1,000-point plateau on Saturday and East Tennessee State rocked Kennesaw State 93-62 in an Atlantic Sun Conference showdown. Williams scored 22 points, getting to 1,000 points with a 3-pointer in the second half, as the Buccaneers won for the 11th time in 12 games.
• Will Kelly joined an elite group of players at Lycoming, becoming only the 11th to score 1,000 points and tally 500 rebounds. Kelly achieved the milestone in an 88-86 double-overtime loss to Albright at the Bollman Center, scoring 23 points and grabbing 12 rebounds.
• Knocking down 3-pointers hasn’t been a problem for West Liberty State. The No. 1 ranked team in Division II buried 25 shots from beyond the arc Saturday in a 133-82 win against Concord to improve to 18-0.
• Jordan Hulls scored 18 points for Indiana as the Hoosiers stunned No. 20 Illinois 52-49 on Saturday afternoon in Bloomington, ending a 19-game losing streak against nationally ranked opponents and handing the Illini their fourth loss in five games.
• Clemson looked like a team in turmoil a month ago, losing three consecutive games, but the Tigers have won 10 of their last 12, including a surprising 62-44 win against No. 22 Florida State at home on Saturday. The Tigers forced 22 turnovers and held FSU to less than 33 percent shooting from the field.