Men’s basketball pick up important nonconference win in 63-53 victory over Saint Mary’s


Noelani Sapla

Trey Pulliam (center) drives towards the basket against Long Beach State on Nov. 30.

by Jason Freund, Sports Editor

It has been no secret that the San Diego State Aztecs have been shooting poorly behind the 3-point line this season.

Entering the Footprint Center in Phoenix, SDSU had shot 29.3% from three-point land — good for 311th in the country.

Against the Saint Mary’s Gaels (10-3), the Aztecs (7-3) flipped the script, shooting 7-of-10 from downtown to down the Gaels 63-53 in a much-needed quality win against a nonconference opponent.

The win qualifies as an early Quad 2 win (with the potential flip to Quad 1) in KenPom rankings, something SDSU needed pretty badly after losing to Michigan and USC. Meanwhile, the Aztecs jumped four spots in KenPom rankings from No. 45 to No. 41, one spot behind the Gaels.

Confused? Well, in layman’s terms: the higher a team is in the KenPom rankings, the better the seeding is in the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament… usually.

For their part, the Scarlet and Black showed that they can still hang with the top teams in the country. Head coach Brian Dutcher’s offense was perfectly balanced, as the nine players he sent on the floor each scored at least once.

Senior Trey Pulliam was named the MVP of the night after scoring 15 points with six assists, but he didn’t do it alone. Senior Adam Seiko shot four shots, all from beyond the 3-point arc, and sank all four for 12 points while senior Matt Bradley added in 14 points of his own.

Despite the fluidity of the offense, the Aztecs never truly broke away from the Gaels. In the second half, SDSU had taken an 11-point lead against Saint Mary’s but saw the Gaels slowly chip away at the deficit to claw back to within a single point.

However, SDSU’s defense — which had been mystifying Saint Mary’s throughout the game — held strong and fended off the final assault. A Seiko 3-pointer with three-and-a-half minutes in the half from the left corner highlighted an 8-0 run and SDSU never looked back.

Saint Mary’s shot just 36.5% from the floor while their 53 points scored were a season-low. Senior Nathan Mensah was a particular thorn in the side, grabbing 13 rebounds and posting three blocks with eight points.

SDSU will now be rooting for Saint Mary’s for the remainder of the season. The same can be said for Georgetown and Arizona State. The more they win, the better those wins look for SDSU.

The Aztecs have two more matches before the begin Mountain West Conference play against UNLV. They will face the UC San Diego Tritons on Dec. 22.