Aztecs survive 2 OT thriller

by Rafael Avitabile, Staff Writer

No. 15 San Diego State beat its old conference rival Brigham Young University 92-87 in double overtime Monday night in the quarterfinal matchup of the EA Sports Maui Invitational. The win was head coach Steve Fisher’s 500th of career victory and moved him into a tie with George Ziegenfuss for most wins in school history with 316.

SDSU started the game on an 11-0 run aided by junior forward Winston Shepard who scored the first seven points of the contest. BYU tied the game on several occasions throughout regulation, but never took the lead. The Aztecs had opportunities to put the game away down the stretch, but went cold from the field and from the charity stripe.

In the final four minutes of the game, the Aztecs converted only 1-4 free throws and 1-5 final shots. Senior forward J.J. O’Brien had a decent look at a game-winner with 16 seconds left on the clock, but his running jumper was a little too strong off of the glass. Junior forward Winston Shepard followed for the tip, but his shot stuck on the front of the rim and fell back down as time expired.

BYU took its first lead in extra time and stretched it to five points with 1:35 left to play before senior guard Aqeel Quinn came through with yet another big shot. O’Brien’s layup brought them within three and the Aztecs forced a Cougar turnover on the other end.

Freshman guard Trey Kell swung the ball to Quinn in the corner, who had his 3-point attempt blocked by freshman center Corbin Kaufusi. The ball fell back into Quinn’s hands and he stepped back and shot another one. His fifth 3-pointer of the night fell in and tied the game at 76 with 28 seconds left. BYU’s Kyle Collinsworth couldn’t get the contested layup to fall on the other end, and they headed for the second overtime period.

“I saw the big man come out and he blocked my shot,” Quinn said. “Then I just didn’t want the ball to go down the other way, so I had to make another play. I tipped the ball, (junior forward Skylar Spencer) got it and gave it right back to me. I looked down to see if I was behind the line and just let it fly.”

The second overtime wasn’t nearly as tense as the first.

With the game tied at 80 with three and a half minutes left, Quinn hit his sixth and final 3-ball of the night and the Aztecs never looked back. Kell did his part to ensure the SDSU victory, hitting 5-6 free throws and pulling down three defensive rebounds in the period.

For the second time this season, Quinn come off the bench to lead the team in scoring. Quinn finished with 22 points on 8-18 shooting including 6-15 on 3-pointers.

O’Brien was productive in all areas as usual, adding 13 points and nine rebounds in 48 minutes. He also played a key role in the Aztec attack against BYU’s zone defense, dishing out a team-leading six assists.

Senior guard Tyler Haws of BYU scored a game-high 26 points in 48 on 9-24 shooting including 5-9 shooting from 3-point land. Junior guard Kyle Collinsworth added another 21 points with seven rebounds, six assists and three steals.

SDSU shot a refreshing 48 percent from the field after 24- and 32-percent performances in its last two games against California State University, Bakersfield and the University of Utah.

“People have been saying we can’t make a basket,” Fisher said. “We shot 20-some-odd percent in two games. We think we can make shots, but until you do that doubt might linger.”

The Aztecs will face the University of Pittsburgh on Tuesday at 7 p.m. in the semifinal round. Pitt allowed its last two opponents, Division II Chaminade University and the University of Hawaii, to shoot 51 and 53 percent from the floor respectively.

The Panthers feature two interior scoring threats in sophomore Michael Young and senior Derrick Randall. Against Chaminade, Young scored 27 points with 15 rebounds, and Randall added another 11 points and 21 rebounds. After surviving past BYU’s 3-point sharpshooting, the Aztecs will have their hands full with Young and Randall in the paint.


Be sure to read about the Aztecs’ victory against the California State University, Bakersfield Roadrunners here.