Aztecs take down Cal 76-67 in overtime to win the SoCal Showcase

Credit: Deanna Gold/ EVT Sports

Credit: Deanna Gold/ EVT Sports

The San Diego State Aztecs and Cal Golden Bears headlined the first-ever SoCal Showcase at JSerra High School in south Orange County.

The Aztecs ended the two-game skid over the Golden Bears as they lost the last two matchups in 2017 and 2018 before their win this evening. SDSU now leads the all-time series 8-6 and are (3-0) on neutral sites.

“Every time we go out on the floor we are learning something about our team,” head coach Brian Dutcher said. “The good news is that we are learning through winning. Sometimes you take a loss and learn hard lessons but we are fortunate enough to learn lessons as we win.”

The atmosphere was electric in the high school arena as it felt like a CIF Final in front of a sold-out crowd. A majority of the fans were supporting SDSU, but Cal did have a small section of supporters. However, the Aztec fanbase was extremely loud, and it felt even louder in such a small environment.

“Our fans travel great,” Dutcher said. “And they were here supporting us and we are grateful for that.”

The Aztecs fed off that intensity that the fanbase traveled with. It took two minutes for the Aztecs to score, but Reese Waters scored the first five points of the game to settle the team down. He started the game 3-3 with eight points and was a big reason for the early success offensively.

Cal started the game playing very well, scoring a majority of their points from deep. Three of Cal’s first four baskets were from deep as but the shots started to miss as SDSU’s defensive intensity picked up. Cal finished just 9-37 from deep.

Jaedon LeDee’s first big moment of the game was a huge one. It didn’t come on the offensive end. Instead, he denied 6-foot-11 center Fardaws Aimaq at the rim to send the crowd into a frenzy.

Cal is a very good rebounding team; in fact, they out boarded all six of their opponents to start the season. Entering Saturday, they had a +50 rebound advantage. They out-rebounded SDSU early but still had a tough time scoring in the paint. Fourteen minutes into the game, Cal was 4-13 from deep and 4-13 from inside the arc.

“We were concerned about rebounding all year and it showed today,” Dutcher said. “Sometimes we will out-rebound an opponent or two to make us feel a little better about ourselves but we have to improve our rebounding if we are going to be a really good team. We work on it everyday but it has to translate. With that said, Aimaq is a monster in there rebounding the ball.”

The Aztecs managed to control the remaining minutes of the first half. Their defense picked up the pace and forced Cal to shoot just 33% from the field.

SDSU led 39-34 at the break after a Darrion Trammel fade-away seconds before the buzzer sounded.

The second half saw Cal start the same way they did to start the game. Cal kept heaving up three’s, and they were not connecting. With just under 12 minutes to go in the half, Cal was 6-26 from deep. They knew that attacking the rim was no easy task against this gritty SDSU defense.

Credit: Deanna Gold/ EVT Sports

The Aztecs had trouble securing rebounds again in the second half. There were multiple possessions where the Golden Bears would get easy second-chance points due to their plethora of offensive boards.

Boxing out was a crucial part of finishing the game for San Diego State.

This game was one to forget for Butler. He was held scoreless from the floor for the entire game. However, he did make one free throw. Butler got into foul trouble early and was unable to make an impact on the offensive end. Although, he had a defensive stop that was important as it happened to get Cal head coach Mark Madsen upset which resulted in a technical foul on the coach. Butler was later replaced by Waters to prevent Butler for earning his 4th foul. Butler was also not on the floor for the final possession of the second half for the Aztecs.

Cal managed to keep the game close at the end of the half and ended top, forcing overtime as SDSU couldn’t hit the game-winner. LeDee drove to the paint but was denied at the rim, and the final buzzer sounded.

SDSU knew that they had another five minutes to put the Golden Bears away.

The defense stepped up in a huge way not allowing the Golden Bears to make a field goal for the first four minutes of OT. Their defense propelled them to a win despite having a sup-par offensive night.

Waters was named MVP for the SoCal Showcase with his 24 points.

“I felt pretty comfortable after the first two shots went in,” Waters said. “I try to use defensive and rebounding to help get myself going on offense but I felt pretty good.”

This was a good test away from home for SDSU. They now will head back top Viejas Arena to take on Point Loma Nazarene at 7:00 pm this Monday, November 27.

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News & Stats

  • Cal’s Jalen Celestine (foot) and Devin Askew (foot) were both out for this matchup. They both average 10+ points per game.
  • Waters finished with a season-high 24 points in the win. LeDee ended with 19, and they combined to shoot 50% from the field.
  • Cal finished with 21 offensive rebounds and out-rebounded SDSU 52-38. The Aztecs only had seven offensive boards.
  • The bench finally stepped up offensively, ending with 17 points.
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