Aztecs Defeated by Utah State in Mountain West Championship, Must Rebound

For the second year in a row, the Aztecs were defeated by Utah State University in the Mountain West Basketball Championship.

“That’s March Madness basketball. It just started in the conference tournament,” Head coach Brian Dutcher said. “We will learn from it and we will be ready when we see who we play in 10 days.”

Aggies’ Sam Merrill made a challenging game-winning three pointer over SDSU’s KJ Feagin with 2.5 seconds left on the game clock.

“[I] couldn’t have played better defense,” Senior KJ Feagin said.

Merrill finished with 27 points and was named MVP for the second straight year.

With the championship win, Utah State gets the Mountain West’s automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.

The Aztecs led by 16 points in the first half and appeared to be in firm control of the game. The Aggies didn’t make a field goal from 15:06 remaining to 2:11 remaining in the first half.

In the Aztecs first two games of the 2020 Air Force Reserve Mountain West Basketball Championships, they struggled against Air Force and Boise State in the first halves before pulling away in the second half.

It was the opposite on Saturday, the Aztecs were cold in the closing stages of the first half and it stayed true for the entire game.

SDSU made 34% of their field goals for the game, which included only making 12% of their three pointers in the second half.

The Aztecs had a strong performance from Yanni Wetzell, he finished with a 12 point and 13 rebound double-double.

“I don’t know if they made a whole lot of adjustments. It was just a matter of me putting two halves together,” Wetzell said. “I think I performed better in the first half, and that’s something I’m going to take and try and improve on, and promise you I’m going to put two halves together once that Tournament comes.”

Malachi Flynn added 16 points and Feagin added 11. However Wetzell, Feagin, and Flynn combined to shoot 14-for-43.

What truly hurt the Aztecs was Matt Mitchell and Jordan Schakel combining for only four points.

“You know, Jordan, they stayed out on Jordan. He couldn’t find any opportunities,” Dutcher said. “Matt didn’t have a great game today Obviously I think he’d be the first to say that. I don’t know what he was from the field, 1-for-7 from the field, 0-for-2 from three.”

The Aztecs admitted this loss hurt and left them feeling deflated after the game.

“I think I speak for everybody when I feel like that shot and us taking this loss just took all the life out of us today,” Feagin said. “I wanted to cut down nets. We all wanted to cut down nets.”

With the loss, the Aztecs will likely drop from a No. 1 seed to No. 2 seed in the NCAA tournament.

With the probable change in seeding, the Aztecs would stay in the West instead fo traveling to the East.

“I want to be a 1 seed, so I want to be a 1 seed. I want to be a 1 seed in the west,” Dutcher said. “So we’ll see what happens. I mean, I think we’re good enough.

They potentially will have 13 days before their next game.

“I don’t think it’s that hard to sit on a loss. It’s hard losing the conference championship in the last two seconds of the game,” Dutcher said.

The important games haven’t started yet, but if the Aztecs lose in the first or second round of the NCAA tournament, it will feel like this historic season was all for naught.

The Aztecs must rebound and take their winning-ways to the tournament.

If Flynn, Feagin, Mitchell and Wetzell show up in the same game, SDSU can beat anyone.

Written by: Dan Farr

Men’s Basketball Wins Home Finale

On Tuesday, February 25, San Diego State played their final home game of the season and honored three players. As part of senior night KJ Feagin, Nolan Narain, and Yanni Wetzell were celebrated before tipoff against Colorado State.

“We didn’t want another one, [loss] especially on senior night.” Junior Matt Mitchell said, “We wanted to get our seniors out with a win.”

The Aztecs beat the Rams 66-60 in their home finale to improve to 27-1. The team wanted to send their seniors out on the right note, but cold shooting nearly doomed the Aztecs. This was their second straight game of making less than 40% of their shots from the field.

“When Malachi [Flynn] is 0-for-6 from the field and he’s your best player it’s going to be a struggle,” Head coach Brian Dutcher said, “The thing I like about our team is, we can still win when we don’t shoot the ball well because our defense is so good.”

San Diego state shot 35% for the game and 33% from three point land. Strong defense, especially in the second half propelled the Aztecs to their 27th victory on the season.

“We didn’t want to lose two in a row,” Junior Malachi Flynn said. “We buckled down on the defensive end and people made shots.”

With 57 seconds left, Rams’ guard Isaiah Stevens made two free throws, which cut the Aztecs’ lead to just two. After a stop by the Aztecs, and a stop by the Rams, a jump ball was called and possession was awarded to the Aztecs. 

CSU was forced to intentionally foul Mitchell, who made two free throws to ice the game and begin a new winning streak for the Aztecs. He finished with 15 points and the Aztecs made 17-of-20 free throws on Tuesday night.

SDSU’s defense kept them in the game, as the Rams only made 28% of their second half shots and went 1-for-10 from the three point line. In the first half, the Rams shot 50% but still only led 36-34 entering the second half.

Jordan Schakel started off the second half with a steal and a lay up, then he hit a three pointer to give the Aztecs a 57-56 lead with just over four minutes remaining. He finished with 11 points and four rebounds.

Flynn’s first field goal didn’t come until five minutes into the second half, however he made a big time three pointer with three minutes remaining to extend the lead 62-56. Flynn ended the game with 17 points.

 The Aztecs bench was outscored by 10 points after 20 minutes and they allowed 14 points inside the paint during the half. SDSU allowed 24 points in the paint for the game, but their bench ended up outscoring the Rams by three.

Mitchell scored 13 points in the first half, but his teammates struggled from the field during the half. SDSU made 35.7% of their first half shots and went 6-for-17 from three point land. Flynn was 0-for-6 in the first half and 0-for-4 from deep in the half. He finished the game 4-for-14. 

The Aztecs will play at Nevada on Saturday before embarking on the Mountain West tournament in Las Vegas. 

Written by: Daniel Farr

Men’s Basketball 26-Game Win Streak Snapped

San Diego State men’s basketball team had their 26 game winning streak snapped on Saturday at Viejas arena. The Runnin’ Rebels stunned the Aztecs 66-63.

“We tasted defeat for the first time and it doesn’t taste very good,” Head coach Brian Dutcher said.

In the final seconds, junior Matt Mitchell shot near half court and it missed. It would’ve sent the game into overtime.

“This one loss is a reality check.” Mitchell said, “It shows we’re not invincible.”

Mitchell finished with 13 points on 37.5% shooting.

SDSU men’s basketball led for less than two minutes the entire game, it was their cold shooting in the first half which put them too far behind.

They shot 33% in the first half and 2-for-12 from three point range.

“UNLV played a very good first half.” Dutcher said, “They shot 57% from the field, almost 50% from three and created a big enough lead where they got comfortable.”

The Aztecs were averaging 74.3 points per game when playing conference opponents like the Runnin’ Rebels, but today their offense was stagnant.

Junior Malachi Flynn led the Aztecs in points, assists and rebounds, but even his late game heroics weren’t enough on Saturday.

With just over two minutes remaining, Flynn hit a three pointer and it cut the UNLV lead to six. He then made two free throws and cut the lead to only four. 

After Flynn’s late game free throws, sophomore Aguek Arop blocked a Runnin’ Rebel layup and then scored a layup on the other side of the floor.

It brought the Aztecs within just two points. 

The Aztecs were forced to intentionally foul and it sent Elijah Mitrou-Long to the line and he didn’t miss. Mitrou-Long shot 78% from the line and hit timely free-throws down the stretch. 

On SDSU’s next possession Flynn hit another three pointer and it made the game 64-63, Rebels.

However Mitrou-Long was intentionally fouled yet again and he hit two more free throws to nearly ice the game.

“We lost and it’s the first time it happened,” Flynn said, “It doesn’t feel good.”

As for the Aztecs and their ranking, this loss will likely drop them from No. 4 in the nation. 

“Time will tell, we’ll see soon enough.” Dutcher said. “We have to get off it, we have to win our next game and we have to keep winning games. The only thing we can control is our own performance. We can’t control where people decide to put us in the poll.”

The Aztecs didn’t get the production they are used to from Yanni Wetzell. The big man shot 1-for-6 from the free throw line and scored only seven points.

Senior KJ Feagin also struggled to find the bottom of the net. He only scored five points and shot 25% from the field. It was a night where the Aztecs shot 29% from three and 38.9% for the game.

They’ll play again at Viejas Arena for senior night on Feb. 25 at 8 p.m.

Written by: Daniel Farr

SDSU Baseball Wins Home Opener

San Diego State baseball opened their home schedule with a 8-4 win against Cal State Fullerton on Tuesday night at Tony Gwynn Stadium. The Aztecs now sit at 3-1.

“It was an ugly win, we made six errors.” Head baseball coach Mark Martinez said,  “The one thing we understand is good teams win ugly.”

We witnessed a back and forth affair until junior outfielder Matt Rudick stole second and senior outfielder Mike Jarvis stole home, which gave the Aztecs a 5-4 lead. 

“There’s gonna be jitters at the beginning of the year.” Senior Mike Jarvis said, “I think most of us got it out, and at the end of the day the most important thing is finding a way to win and we did that.” 

In the same inning, a 2-run RBI double by Ryan Orr pushed the lead to 7-4. Orr went 3-4 and tallied two RBIs.

SDSU returned from South Carolina where they went 2-1 over the past weekend. The team defeated Virginia Tech and Coastal Carolina, but lost to UNC Greensboro.  

“We swung the bats all weekend in South Carolina and it kind of carried over to today.” Martinez said, “We should be pretty good offensively.”

An RBI by sophomore Brian Leonhardt extended the lead to 8-4, as outfielder Rudick crossed home plate.

The Aztecs opened up the game with a Jarvis homerun, it was his first of the season and set the stage for the team. 

“Jarvis found the barrel, hit one out and it got us going a little bit.” Martinez said, “I think that was a huge momentum deal where we thought we could win.”

However, the Titans answered. Pinch hitter Max Miller singled to left field and brought home Josh Urps. 

Senior Jacob Cruce singled to right and Orr scored to push the Aztecs’ lead to 2-1. Right after that, the Titans’ Miguel Ortiz doubled to center field and it tied the game as Isaiah Garcia scored.

In the top of the 4th, the Titans scored two runs as a single followed up by an error brought two base runners home.

After that, it was all Aztecs. They scored six unanswered runs while the Titans only had one hit in the final five innings.

The Aztecs will play again at home Friday-Sunday for the Tony Gwynn Legacy Classic. 

“It’s such a blast. It’s going to be so special for us.” Leonhardt said, “Having the Gwynn family come out and be here it’s a different atmosphere when they come out. We love to honor him. [Tony Gwynn]”

Written by: Daniel Farr