By Ted McGovern | November 23, 2022 1:10 pm MT
Aztecs Fall To Wildcats 87-70 In Maui Semifinals
The Wildcats, full of international athletes and seven-footers, look more like a European pro basketball club than an NCAA team.
SDSU did not prevail, but they did hold Arizona to just 87 points, lowering their scoring average by four points.
For a moment, it appeared the Aztecs were facing off against Valencia Basket or Crvena Zvedza, or another Euro professional basketball club rather than an NCAA college basketball team. Three seven-footers, and others at 6’9″, 6’10” and 6’11” is stifling for any opponent. At one point, SDSU’s Nathan Mensa, 6’10” was smothered by four athletes towering over him under the rim as he fought for a rebound.
In the game, Arizona’s Courtney Ramey and Kerr Kriisa each scored 21 points and Arizona pulled away in the second half to beat SDSU.
Arizona moves forward to play No. 10 Creighton in Wednesday’s Championship match. San Diego State takes on No. 9 Arkansas in the Consolation Finals to contend for third place. In most tournaments that would be disappointing, however this field is loaded with top talent and every team playing today, regardless of status, is elite.
The Wildcats’ Azuola Tubelis made all 14 points in the first half and Ramey scored 12 for Arizona. A twisting layup by Tubelis on an alley-oop gave the Wildccats a 31-15 lead at 5:06 before the half. Darrion Trammell then sank a 3-pointer for San Diego State and turned two steals into layups to help the Aztecs close out the half on an 18-6 run to close in on the gap at 37-33.
Keshad Johnson managed two rebound baskets and a three-point dunk/foul and San Diego State used a 9-3 run to take a 42-40 lead just 2:40 into the second half.
That was the only Aztec lead of the game, but it rattled Arizona noticeably.
Pelle Larsson then deployed a 3-pointer; Trammell missed a 3, and Oumar Ballo followed with a three-point play to put Arizona up 46-42. The Wildcats upped their lead to 10 on a Ballo free throw with 11:43 remaining and pushed it to 71-56 on a Cedric Henderson jump shot with 6:58 left on the clock.
Ramey, a graduate transfer from the University of Texas, hit all five of his 3-point shots in his second game with Arizona. Kerr added five assists. Ballo finished with 12 points and nine rebounds before fouling out. Henderson scored 10.
It was notable that the referees botched three back-to-back plays against the Aztecs, each clearly displayed to be erroneous. Bad calls might be a part of the game, but the Aztecs were unfortunately stymied from gaining point streaks in the end.
Trammell led SDSU with 21 points. Micah Parrish registered 10.
Arizona, started the game leading the nation shooting at 62.9% from the floor, but shot 58.6% against the Aztecs. The y made 9 of 20 from beyond the arc.
SDSU shot 38% overall and unlike Monday, made just 3 of 19 from three-point land. That kind of performance shows how significantly the incredible height of the Wildcats impaired SDSU from scoring.
On behalf of the Aztec Nation, palju õnne to the Arizona Wildcats.
NEXT UP FOR THE AZTECS:
San Diego State faces off against No. 9 Arkansas in the third place game of the Maui Jim Maui Invitational on Wednesday at 5pm HST (7pm PST / 10pm EST), the game will be broadcast on ESPN 2.