Huskies fall behind and get ousted by Aztecs 93-78 in NIT loss.
SAN DIEGO — It’s tradition at San Diego State for the home crowd to sing the chorus of Muse’s song “Victorious” right before tip off.
A wry smile cracked onto Washington senior Andrew Andrews’ face as the student section “The Show” started singing Monday night. The lyrics “We will be victorious” bounced off Viejas Arena’s walls with all 12,414 in the sold-out crowd seemingly in unison.
Andrews looked down at his feet — smile even bigger now — and shook his head as if to say, “Yeah, right.”
The fans were right. No. 2 seed SDSU controlled this one from the tip and won 93-78 to send the third-seeded Huskies home and advance to the NIT quarterfinals.
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“We have to give a lot of credit to San Diego State,” UW coach Lorenzo Romar said. “We knew they were a very good defensive team … They played like a veteran group — a team that’s been here before.”
After trailing 65-47 with 12:50 left, freshman Marquese Chriss scored 10 points on three emphatic dunks and a three-pointer over the next eight minutes — all with four fouls. He led UW (19-15) to a 24-12 scoring run to make it 77-71 with 4:16 to go.
But then the student section sang “Victorious” again during a timeout.
Immediately after they finished, Aztec sophomore Trey Kell knocked down two free throws. Then fellow sophomore Malik Pope stole UW’s inbound pass and senior Winston Shepard scored under the basket.
Then Kell hit a three.
Then freshman Jeremy Hemsley hit a three.
Then UW turned it over on an errant pass.
All of a sudden, with 2:42 left, SDSU (27-9) led 86-75 and stole back the momentum for good.
“A lot of shots that we make throughout the year just weren’t falling today,” Andrews said. “ … I don’t think it was anything they were doing. The shots just weren’t falling.”
UW dug itself a huge hole in the first half. SDSU went on two separate 13-2 scoring runs, including one to end the half, and led 45-29 at the break.
The Huskies shot 28 percent in the first half.
It definitely didn’t help that UW’s starting front line, Chriss and junior Malik Dime, both picked up their fourth personal fouls within the first four minutes of the second half.
Freshman Noah Dickerson, who normally backs up Chriss and Dime, didn’t travel with the team to San Diego after getting suspended for violating a team rule.
“You play without our leading shot-blocker, arguably one of the more talented big guys around (in Chriss), those guys sitting on the bench, boy it hurts in a lot of ways,” Romar said. “Both offensively and defensively.”
This game could have been a basketball purist’s dream: offense vs. defense, young vs. old, blitzkrieg vs. trench warfare.
But on this night, the Huskies mostly endured a nightmare, with SDSU beating them at their own game: scoring.
“I think they took our cue a little bit,” Romar said. “I thought we rushed shots too many times offensively and we allowed them to get into an offensive rhythm as a result of that. We had too many breakdowns tonight on the defensive end, which allowed them to get to the rim quicker.”
Freshman Dejounte Murray scored 20 points, but mostly in the second half. He and Chriss combined for just six points on 2-of-18 shooting in the first half.
Shepard led the Aztecs with 20 points and 10 rebounds.
Fourth-seeded Georgia Tech (21-14) beat No. 1 South Carolina (25-9) 83-66, so SDSU will host an NIT quarterfinal Wednesday.