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SDUT: Aztecs let victory slip away in final, desperate moments

Discussion in 'All Other Sports' started by ChargerRay, Mar 17, 2006.

  1. ChargerRay

    ChargerRay Producer/Host of BoltTalk Staff Member Super Moderator Podcaster

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    Last night was disappointing, but it was still a memorable season. Congrats to SDSU! You guys will be back in the tournament next year!

    http://www.signonsandiego.com/sports/aztecs/20060317-9999-1s17sdsumen.html

    SALT LAKE CITY – The dream was lost in an ocean of confusion of a final minute and change. It was a time when San Diego State's basketball team couldn't have shown more of its nerves last night if this NCAA Tournament game were replayed 100 times.
    The Aztecs are still without a win in this event and their fifth loss in history is arguably the most crushing, an 87-83 setback to Indiana in a first-round Oakland Regional game before 15,122 at the Huntsman Center.



    “It's an extremely difficult loss and when you consider the fashion in which we lost it, it adds to the sting,” said Aztecs coach Steve Fisher. “I'm proud of how we competed and yet it's bitterly disappointing to lose a game we thought we could win but didn't.
    “Our (players) are devastated, but if this doesn't burn all the way through their stomachs, they're not the competitors I know they are. It's devastating, as any loss to end a season would be.”
    The tipped pass that 11th-seeded SDSU (24-9) had to grab to secure victory flew high in the air just beyond Marcus Slaughter's reach as the final frantic seconds ticked away, instead falling to Indiana forward Robert Vaden. He then hit a three-pointer with 3.3 seconds left that pushed the Hoosiers ahead 85-83.



    “Good teams get loose balls and (Vaden) made a great shot,” said Slaughter.
    The play SDSU had to make for a shot at the buzzer never came off, when after two timeouts junior forward Mohamed Abukar threw an out-of-bounds pass the length of the court that sailed high above all hands.
    The shots SDSU has to earn and the opportunities it had to create to extend its lead in the final minutes never transpired. It was 81-76 Aztecs when freshman point guard Richie Williams turned the ball over at midcourt under little pressure. It was 81-78 when Slaughter missed the front end of a one-and-one. It was 81-80 when junior guard Brandon Heath lost his dribble at midcourt and was then tied up for a jump ball that gave sixth-seeded Indiana possession with 13.3 seconds remaining.
    All big, critical, game-altering plays. “Good teams get loose balls and (Vaden) made a great shot,” said Slaughter.
    The play SDSU had to make for a shot at the buzzer never came off, when after two timeouts junior forward Mohamed Abukar threw an out-of-bounds pass the length of the court that sailed high above all hands.
    The shots SDSU has to earn and the opportunities it had to create to extend its lead in the final minutes never transpired. It was 81-76 Aztecs when freshman point guard Richie Williams turned the ball over at midcourt under little pressure. It was 81-78 when Slaughter missed the front end of a one-and-one. It was 81-80 when junior guard Brandon Heath lost his dribble at midcourt and was then tied up for a jump ball that gave sixth-seeded Indiana possession with 13.3 seconds remaining.
    All big, critical, game-altering plays.



    “That was a really good basketball team we played,” said Indiana coach Mike Davis, whose career leading the Hoosiers will last at least until tomorrow's second-round game against Gonzaga. “They played hard and made shots. But I talked to the guys about not panicking and to keep going inside. We showed a lot of character.”
    This is a game SDSU led by 10 with under 12 minutes remaining and by four with under three to go, a game in which the Aztecs shot 62 percent in the first half (including 7-of-9 on threes) and 56.4 percent for the game. But in the stretches of flowing offense also came those of shoddy defense and shaky decisions.



    Dribble penetration hurt SDSU at times this season and this was no different. The Hoosiers (19-11) got to the rim over and over, with most of the damage inflicted by guard Earl Calloway (18 points). When layups weren't coming from Indiana guards, they were being converted by beastly Marco Killingsworth, whose 6-8, 270-pound frame managed 18 points and taxed the thinner Aztecs all evening.
    “We weren't able to do a number of things,” said Abukar, the team's best player last night who finished with 24 points and nine rebounds. “They had too many layups, which was one of the biggest reasons we lost. I'm surprised anytime we lose.”
    Words were barely audible from SDSU players afterward. There was no last shot to try to win, as Aztecs coaches chose to have Abukar throw a long pass aimed at Slaughter instead of their original thought of having Williams or Heath try to advance the ball in those 3.3 seconds and look for opportunity.
    Heath scored 15 and Slaughter had 13 points and 10 rebounds and now each must decide about his future. It is likely Heath will apply for the NBA draft with the option of returning to school; Slaughter's college career will end if he enters the draft a second straight year.
    There is a talented and extremely athletic transfer (Lorrenzo Wade of Louisville) waiting to play and a Top 30 recruiting class set to arrive to a team that started no seniors last night.
    “I'll take this team any time, anywhere, any place for the quality of the young men we have in this program,” said Fisher. “We desperately wanted to win, but we didn't. It hurts for everybody.”
     
  2. oca

    oca BoltTalker

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    Yeah that truly sucked.....so close yet we loose again.
     
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