Aztecs dominate Round of 32 matchup against Yale, 85-57


Elijah Saunders fired up during the Round of 32 contest against Yale (Credit: USA Today)

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Credit: USA Today Sports

Spokane Veterans Memorial Arena – Spokane, Washington 

The San Diego State Aztecs and Yale Bulldogs met for the Round of 32 matchup in Spokane, Washington. This game was not close from the jump. SDSU played one of their best games of the entire season, and it came at the right time.

The Aztecs are now headed to Boston next week to take on No. 1 UConn, who, as you all know, defeated the Aztecs in last year’s National Championship. SDSU will look for revenge.

“First of all, I want to congratulate coach Jones and Yale on an outstanding season.” head coach Brian Dutcher said postgame. “They had our full attention. We knew they were good. We watched how they played against Auburn and we were focused and ready to play. That is a credit to my team. So, I’m proud of our effort. We’re advancing to the Sweet 16.”

The Aztecs started hotter than Satan’s toenail on the offensive end. They begun the contest shooting 62.5% from the floor and held a quick 13-3 lead over the Bulldogs. LeDee scored eight of those points and nailed two triples.

Yale would slowly creep back into the game as they followed with a 9-4 run to bring the score within five. The score could have been closer, but Miles Byrd entered the game and immediately made an impact by swatting Yale’s Bez Mbeng at the rim. Elijah Saunders finished with a putback dunk on the other end.

SDSU led 19-12 with 11:26 remaining in the first half.

Byrd continued to stay hot. He drained a three to put the Aztecs up 12, then immediately got elbowed in the mouth on the defensive end. He stayed in the game.

Elijah Saunders, anyone? The sophomore entered the game early but eventually made a serious impact by draining back-to-back shots from beyond the arc. One thing is for sure: Saunders does not hesitate to shoot. He made the Bulldogs pay on those two possessions by leaving him open.

Moments later, LeDee scored his 17th point of the game, which solidified himself as the Aztecs all time leader in field goals made in a season. He surpassed the legendary Michael Cage.

The half would go on to end as the Aztecs kept control. They took a 24-point lead into the break and led 45-21.

20 minutes remained for the Aztecs to hold off the Bulldogs for yet another Sweet 16 appearance. SDSU shot 51.7% from the floor in the half. LeDee led with 17 points and seven rebounds. Trammell scored nine and hit a triple, plus the foul late in the half. He made the free throw, but the Bulldogs just had no answer.

Trammell started the second half by draining a triple from the left corner. He then made another as the Aztecs’ offense kept firing on all cylinders.

Yale started the second half much better. Poulakidas finally got in the scoring column by scoring six early points to start the half. After scoring just 21 points in the first half, Yale responded by scoring 11 points in fewer than four minutes. However, SDSU kept pushing. Their lead was 56-32 with 15:58 remaining.

Dutcher kept feeding LeDee as there was no answer from the Bulldogs. The senior’s point-total reached 26 points on 9-11 shooting.

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The Aztecs were dominating this Round of 32 contest.

Both LeDee, followed by Butler, had fastbreak slams that really put the emphasis on this game. It seemed as if Yale did not belong on the same court as the Aztecs.

SDSU ran away with the game and won by knockout.

The Aztecs dominated the boards tonight, which was a big emphasis for the Aztecs heading into this matchup.

“I think we did pretty good,” LeDee said postgame about Yale’s strength on defensive rebounding. “We limited them to tough shots, tough twos, that was what the game plan was. We didn’t let (Mahoney & Poulakidas) got off with the three’s. We limited them to their second-chance points and we hit the glass pretty hard. I’m happy with the victory, we came out victorious and that is what we try and do.”

2023 National Champions UConn awaits. The Sweet 16 game is Thursday, March 28 at 4:39 PST. The game will be aired on TBS.

“We have a road game against UConn in Boston,” Dutcher said postgame. “And I have a group I think that will be ready for the task.”

News & Stats 

  • LeDee – 26 points/9 rebounds/1 assist/1 steal
  • Trammell – 18 points/5 rebounds/4 assists/3 steals
  • Butler – 9 points/3 assists/1 steal/ 1 rebound
  • Saunders – 8 points/3 rebounds
  • Cade Alger – 2 points/2 rebounds
  • SDSU shot 52.7% from the floor. Yale shot just 37%

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