Men’s basketball defeats UCSD, prepares for COVID resurgence

SDSUs+student+section%2C+The+Show%2C+had+some+fun+poking+fun+at+cross-town+rivals+UCSD+when+they+came+to+Viejas+Arena.

Andrew Finley

SDSU’s student section, The Show, had some fun poking fun at cross-town rivals UCSD when they came to Viejas Arena.

by Andrew Finley, Assistant Sports Editor

San Diego State men’s basketball (8-3) scored first and never looked back against the cross-town UC San Diego Tritons (6-5) by a score of 78-57. 

The victory was all part of a whole-team effort for the Scarlet and Black — every Aztec that took a shot created points. 

With senior guard Trey Pulliam under the weather during the game (not COVID-19 related), the team effort was a great sight for head coach Brian Dutcher. 

“We shot the ball very well,” Dutcher said. “I think it’s the third or fourth game in a row that we really shot the three well, and when we do that we’re a lot more dangerous offensively.” 

The Aztecs made 54% of their shots, and were 9-of-19 (47%) from the 3-point line. Senior forward Nathan Mensah paced the Scarlet and Black, sinking nine of his 12 shots for 19 points and nearly made it a double-double with nine rebounds. 

Mensah has had opportunities to produce nights like this in previous games, and his performance against UCSD shows how lethal he can be when he sinks his shots. 

“He had the same looks against Saint Mary’s, and couldn’t get them (shots) to fall,” Dutcher said of Mensah. “To his credit, he kept his confidence up, we kept the confidence up in him, and we went to him early and often and he found a way to put it in the basket and be dangerous around there.” 

Junior forward Keshad Johnson was the most efficient shooter for the Aztecs, making six of his eight shots for 13 points with a couple of dunks for style points. Senior guard Matt Bradley has been an offensive force all season for SDSU, putting up 13 points against UCSD.

Junior guard Keshad Johnson imposed his will on UCSD defenders with a couple of dunks versus the Tritons. (Andrew Finley)

With the ball being spread around, it was easy to lose track of one of the cooler stories of Wednesday night’s game, and that was senior guard’s Adam Seiko’s streak of 3-point shots made. Seiko had made seven straight 3-pointers entering the game against the Tritons, and sank three more to improve his streak to 10 straight 3-point shots made. Seiko missed his following three on the night to end the streak at 10. 

“I wasn’t thinking about that (streak) during the game, but then one of the managers had told me I was at 10 straight until I missed one and he (the manager) was like ‘Dang, you messed up your record.’,” Seiko said. “It was a good little streak. Feels good to see the shots go in.” 

The Aztecs get to go home for the holidays this year — something they weren’t able to do last season. The resurgence of COVID-19 has the players and the program concerned, however, as their upcoming match against San Diego Christian College on December 27 was canceled due to the virus’ resurgence. 

Seiko said he and his teammates are excited to see their families for the holidays, and also plan on being diligent about who they hang around. 

“That’s what we’re talking about around the locker room, be careful who you hang around, make sure you’re going to see your families, and just be sure to be safe and aware because we don’t want to be the team that sits out,” Seiko said. “We’re all aware, we’re all safe.” 

Coach Dutcher shares his team’s concerns about the virus. 

“Yeah I’m concerned, but we didn’t let them go home (for the holidays) last year; that’s a long year,” Dutcher said. “Now it’s just simple advice and warnings; listen, go home, spend Christmas with your family! This is not a time to get together with friends and be social.”

“We have to take every precaution we can, but at the same time I didn’t want them to miss two Christmases in a row at home.” 

Dutcher said the team is expected to return on December 26, but with their match against SDCC getting canceled, the team may look to spend an extra day or two at home before preparing for Mountain West Conference play against UNLV on New Year’s Day in Las Vegas.