Lahaina Civic Center – Maui, Hawaii
San Diego State’s struggles with big front lines came to a head when they faced off with a big Arizona team who could not miss. The Aztecs got outmuscled by Arizona’s twin towers enroute to their first loss of the season, 87-70 in the second round of the Maui Invitational.
In the first half the Wildcats came out storming, getting out to a quick 10-4 start at the beginning of the game. Arizona would eventually increase their lead to 14 behind some strong interior play and clutch shooting.
They dominated the Aztecs completely by shooting over 50% from the field, outrebounding San Diego State 22-13, and getting easy baskets (20-8 points in the paint).
The Aztecs, like they have early this year, fought back. As is in their DNA, the defense was the catalyst. San Diego State forced 10 Arizona turnovers to put themselves back in the game. A Darrion Trammell three-point basket right before the half brought the Aztecs within four points.
In the second half the Aztecs carried their momentum, scoring early and taking their only lead of the game three minutes in after Keshad Johnson was fouled on a dunk.
After the free throw, Arizona would come down the court and hit a three-point shot to regain the lead, one which they would not relinquish. Even though the San Diego State showed more fight in the second half, the Aztecs could not stop the Wildcats from scoring.
Arizona shot an incredible 66.7% from the field in the second half, 60% from beyond the arc, which helped them expand their lead, regardless of the improved effort of San Diego State.
They key to the loss was shooting. Arizona could not miss, while the Aztecs had trouble making anything. Being outshot 59-38% (45-16% from three) is just a recipe for failure.
Also, unfortunately the Aztecs were not given a chance to change the game. The Maui Invitational’s refereeing has been atrocious all around and today was no exception. With the Aztecs down 10 Trammell cleanly stole the ball from Arizona guard Kerr Kriisa, the ref blew the whistle and called a foul on Trammell.
Kriisa made two free throws, and instead of the Aztecs being down eight, they were down 12. Next time down the court Kriisa drives his elbow into Trammell’s chest, a foul was called…on Trammell. Kriisa makes two free throws to extend the lead and Trammell heads to the bench with his fourth foul.
Obviously, Arizona was the better team today and dominated San Diego State, however the Aztecs never gave up. Even down statistically, the Aztecs were in it throughout. Had these two plays been called differently, maybe the game is more competitive.
Trammell led the Aztecs with 21 points. Micah Parrish was the only other Aztec in double-figures with 10 points. Arizona had five players in double-figures.
The Aztecs now play #9 ranked Arkansas tomorrow for third place in Maui. The Razorbacks lost 90-87 to Creighton in the other semi-final.