Big Apple too big for SDSU men’s basketball in 65-46 loss to George Washington in NIT semifinal

by Ryan Posner, Sports Editor

The San Diego State men’s basketball team was right where it wanted to be.

The team was playing George Washington Universirty in Madison Square Garden on ESPN Tuesday night with a chance to reach the first NIT final in school history, somewhat of a consolation for just being left out of the NCAA tournament.

Even Winston Shepard said it after the team beat Georgia Tech in the quarterfinals:

“By the time we get to New York it’ll be eight teams left in the country … if you’re still playing at this point, your team is pretty special.”

The moment was too big for the Aztec offense, though, as George Washington blew them out, 65-46, effectively ending SDSU’s season.

It was the team’s biggest margin of defeat since losing to West Virginia, 72-50, on Nov. 27.

Head coach Steve Fisher was leading the Aztecs into just their second  NIT semifinals appearance, the last one coming in 2009 when the team lost to Baylor University in the semis.

SDSU came into the game with an average margin of victory of 18.3 points per game through its first three NIT contests.

The Aztecs didn’t lead for a single minute Tuesday as the offense failed to get going early and never settled in.

Redshirt-freshman Zylan Cheatham was the only player to hit more than one field goal in the first half and led the team with five points at the intermission.

It didn’t get much better in the second half as the team went 2-for-13 from behind the 3-point line to close out the game.

The team would end 3-for-22 from behind the 3-point line and shot 28.8 percent from the field.

SDSU shot better behind the arc in its lost against University of San Diego on Dec. 6 (4-for-13).

George Washington ended the game with a tactical 42.6 percent mark from the field.

The Aztecs had their struggles shooting the ball, but turnovers played a factor in keeping the team from ever actually mounting a comeback.

The closest the team got was when redshirt-junior Matt Shrigley hit a 3 with 7:38 left in the first that left the Aztecs trailing 19-16.

SDSU turned the ball over 11 times compared to six for George Washington, and the Colonials had a 15-3 advantage in points off turnovers.

Junior guard Dakari Allen led with 13 points on 3-for-11 shooting. He was the only Aztec to score in double digits.

In their final game as Aztecs, senior forward Winston Shepard had seven points, three rebounds and three assists, and senior forward Skylar Spencer had six rebounds and three blocks.