Aztecs suffer tough 79-73 defeat to Grand Canyon in Phoenix

Credit: Don De Mars/ EVT Sports

Credit: Don De Mars/ EVT Sports

The San Diego State Aztecs and Grand Canyon Antelopes met for the 5th time all-time, and SDSU continues to have a hard time defeating this fairly new program. SDSU falls to (7-2) on the year after suffering a rough defeat away from home.

After taking down UC San Diego by just one point, thanks to a Jaedon LeDee game-winner, the Aztecs once again had a tough game on the road against a team with a lot to prove.

Grand Canyon University has one of the best college basketball environments in all of the nation. Many are still finding this out for the first time. GCU fans were camping out last night so they could get seats for tonight’s action. They were active and loud for the entire contest. This program had never won a game against top-25 opponent (0-9), and you could tell that the players, coaches, and fans desperately wanted to change history Tuesday night.

Grand Canyon University certainly did that.

Even though they have beaten this team four times in five contests (now one at the Division I level), GCU had never done it when the Aztecs were ranked. Now, the Lopes celebrate as they look forward to another solid run in the Western Athletic Conference. GCU is now (7-1) on the season.

Both teams struggled early in this contest. The three-ball was the focal point for the Aztecs, yet it didn’t pan out for them through the first five and a half minutes of the game. SDSU shot 1-6 from deep as Elijah Saunders drained the only three to that point. From the floor, the Aztecs started the game going 2-11 but played well defensively, forcing two quick turnovers.

Credit: Don De Mars/ EVT Sports

One player stood out in the first half of this game. Can you guess who it was? Jaedon LeDee. The rising star led the Aztecs back from a short deficit as they took their first lead of the game with just under eight minutes to go in the half. His 10 early points were huge for them to keep momentum going in a hostile environment. However, the end of the first half didn’t go as the Aztecs planned.

The Antelopes didn’t care about the No. 6 scorer in the nation and the Aztecs’ gritty defense. GCU came ready to play. You would think that Tyon Grant-Foster and his 22.3 points per game would be the leading scorer for the Lopes, but that wasn’t the case. SDSU held Grant-Foster to 1-9 from the floor to start the game. It was Ray Harrison’s 11 points and Gabe McGlothan’s 13 that helped propel the Lopes to a huge first half.

GCU would go on to lead 35-28 at the break as a 9-0 run to end the half gave them the advantage. McGlothan was one rebound shy of a first-half double-double. LeDee had a battle in store with another elite forward.

The Aztecs struggled to grab boards in the first half, being out-rebounded 24-18. SDSU knew that they would need another second-half comeback if they wanted to come out on top.

Dutcher and his squad have seen it all. They have been in hostile environments before and, of course, played in the NCAA Title game last year. They weren’t going to let the moment get too big for them. As a result, they started the second half playing far better than they did in the first half. Down seven at the break, it took fewer than five minutes to retake the lead. They made the adjustments, and the defense stepped up.

LeDee notched 19 points on 7-10 shooting with 14 minutes remaining in the game. It was clear he was the focal point of the offense for the Aztecs. Lamont Butler and his six assists to this point helped bring the Aztecs back in this game.

However, just when it seemed as if SDSU would start to control the game, GCU retook the lead and kept it for the rest of the game. The Lopes did what they did best against a very good defense, and that was to drive to the basket and force fouls. Grand Canyon ended the game shooting 23-31 from the line as Harrison and McGlothan led the way going 15-16 combined.

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SDSU didn’t play their best out there. They were out-rebounded 40-32, they shot 62% as a team from the free-throw line, and they shot just 32% from deep. San Diego State struggled, but there is still a lot to look forward to in the young season.

The Aztecs face another Big West opponent in UC Irvine (6-3) this Saturday, December 9, at 7:30 pm. The game can be watched on FS1.

News and Stats

  • LeDee finished with another double-double with 24 points and ten rebounds
  • Reese Waters is now 36-36 from the line this season. (6-6) against GCU
  • Trammell ended with 11 points off the bench. His play was huge late in the game for SDSU.
  • Micah Parrish ended with four steals and went 3-7 from deep.
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