Aztecs pummeled by Brown on home court, fall 82-61

Senior+guard+Jeremy+Hemsley+attempts+a+shot+against+two+Brown+defenders+during+the+Aztecs+82-61+loss+against+the+Bears+on+Dec.+29+at+Viejas+Arena.
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Aztecs pummeled by Brown on home court, fall 82-61

Senior guard Jeremy Hemsley attempts a shot against two Brown defenders during the Aztecs 82-61 loss against the Bears on Dec. 29 at Viejas Arena.

Senior guard Jeremy Hemsley attempts a shot against two Brown defenders during the Aztecs 82-61 loss against the Bears on Dec. 29 at Viejas Arena.

David Pradel

Senior guard Jeremy Hemsley attempts a shot against two Brown defenders during the Aztecs 82-61 loss against the Bears on Dec. 29 at Viejas Arena.

David Pradel

David Pradel

Senior guard Jeremy Hemsley attempts a shot against two Brown defenders during the Aztecs 82-61 loss against the Bears on Dec. 29 at Viejas Arena.

by Abraham Jewett, Sports Editor

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San Diego State men’s basketball found itself in a big hole against Brown University on Saturday evening at Viejas Arena.

Like a really, really big hole.

The Aztecs trailed by as many as 30 points before the halftime buzzer and went into the break with a 28-point deficit that proved too much to climb back from, falling 82-61 in front of a stunned crowd of 10,821. 

“We obviously know we have to get better, and we will,” SDSU head coach Brian Dutcher said. “You always say on paper this shouldn’t happen, but they never play games on paper, they always play them on the court.”

Fans started to funnel out with nine minutes left, after a three-pointer from sophomore guard Desmond Cambridge gave Brown (9-4) a 72-44 lead with 8:59 to play.

The Aztecs (7-5) seemed to have no answer for Cambridge, who finished with a game-high 25 points while sinking 7-of-9 shots from behind the arc.

“Cambridge was sensational, I mean some of the baskets he made we couldn’t do anything about,” Dutcher said. “We’re there, hand in the face, he rose up and knocked them down.”

The team from the Ivy league made a total of 15 threes on 28 attempts, including 10 of 16 in the first half alone, and made eight of their first 10 shots to start the game. 

“Once they get rolling like that the basket looks as big as the ocean,” Dutcher said.

Sophomore forward Tamenang Choh (16 points, six rebounds, six assists), senior guard Obi Okolie (13 points, five assists, four rebounds) and junior forward Joshua Howard (11 points, five rebounds) joined Cambridge in double figures for Brown.

Overall, the Bears finished 53 percent from the field – compared to just 35 percent for the Aztecs.

“Give credit to Brown,” Dutcher said. “They dictated at both ends of the floor. Defensively they put us in some positions that we weren’t accustomed to being in.”

SDSU was able to keep its deficit to within 30 points for the majority of the second half, but Dutcher emptied the bench – finally waving the white flag – with 5:32 to play and the Aztecs trailing 76-53.

A bright spot for SDSU – in the second half – was forward Jalen McDaniels, who finished with a team-high 19 points, 17 of which came after the intermission.

Dutcher said the Brown defense was forcing the Aztecs to play more one-on-one, which boded well for the sophomore.

“We were playing a lot more one-on-one basketball than I like to play, but Jalen had some success with it,” he said. “Moving forward hopefully that will boost his confidence.”

The Aztecs trailed Brown 50-22 at the halftime break, after the Bears ended the half on a 26-2 run which spanned just over eight minutes.

Brown shot a total of 71 percent in the opening period, and made 10 consecutive field goals during its half-ending run – including six straight threes – while the Aztecs missed 10 straight and shot only 29 percent from the floor.

SDSU committed more turnovers (11) than made field goals (8) in the first half, and sophomore forward Matt Mitchell (eight points) said the team failed to work together to stop the long run. 

“Its frustrating at a certain level, but you just have to come together as a team, and that’s just something we didn’t do as we were supposed to do,” he said.

Brown used a 16-2 run earlier in the game to jump out to a 19-7 lead, and doubled up the Aztecs for the first time after a three pointer by junior guard Brandon Anderson gave the Bears a 24-12 lead with just over 10 minutes left in the first half.

The Aztecs responded to the 24-12 deficit with an 8-0 run, which included five consecutive points from Aguek Arop, to cut the deficit to 24-20 with 8:32 to play.

SDSU would not score another point, however, until an Arop dunk with 29 seconds left in the first half ended a scoring drought of over eight minutes.

Sophomore guard Jordan Schakel, who finished with nine points, said the team should ultimately learn from a tough loss.

“It’s never easy, but there is growth to be made,” he said. “A lot of teams lose like this and end up learning from it, and coming back and really using this as fuel and a learning experience.”

The Aztecs will have one last chance to get on track before conference play begins, when they welcome in Cal State Northridge on New Year’s Day.

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