Short-handed Aztecs struggle in 66-56 win over Cal State Fullerton

Credit: Don De Mars/ EVT Sports

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Credit: Don De Mars/ EVT Sports

In a game that was too close for comfort, the Aztecs found a way to put another one into the win category.

The Aztecs got off to a hot start. At the under-eight minute media timeout, the Aztecs were 11-for-17 from the field while also shooting 4-for-7 from deep and were winning 26-15.  

A big part of the hot start was Matt Bradley, who had nine of the first 13 points for the Aztecs. He displayed his full offensive arsenal early on. His first bucket was a face-up mid-range jump shot. Then, he hit a contested pull-up from just above the free-throw line, followed by a spot-up three. 

Although the Aztecs were shooting well from the field, it was the plethora of turnovers the Aztecs committed and an almost four-minute scoring drought that kept the Cal State Fullerton Titans within striking distance. 

Ending the drought was Bradley, who shot and made the first free throws attempted by the Aztecs with only 2:43 remaining in the first half to put the Aztecs up 30-16. 

Thankfully, the Aztecs’ defense made CSUF look out of sorts on offense the entire first half which saw them shoot only 33% from the field and 1-for-9 from three-point range. 

The teams went into the locker rooms at halftime with SDSU up 32-22 on a great shooting first half, 46% from the field, but held back with ten turnovers. 

Bradley led the way with 14 points at the half. 

Cal State Fullerton came out of the break with much more energy than they had in the first half and were able to tie the game at 39 with 12:47 on the clock. The comeback was led by Tray Maddox Jr., who hit tough shots all night long and finished the game with 15 points. 

Credit: Don De Mars/ EVT Sports

The Aztecs were able to respond with back-to-back floaters from Trey Pulliam and then a huge three from Adam Seiko off a great dish from Pulliam to put the Aztecs up 46-39 with just over 11 minutes remaining. 

But, the Titans kept crawling their way back into the game as the Aztecs were careless with the ball and didn’t score again until Adam Seiko hit another three at the 7:33 mark to extend the SDSU lead to 49-44. 

A Nathan Mensah free throw put the Aztecs up six. 

Following some impressive shots from Maddox Jr., Bradley scored six straight points to give the Aztecs a well-needed five-point cushion. Bradley would finish the night with a game-high 22 points.

The biggest shot of the night came when Bradley found Seiko on the wing for his third and final three of the game. This put the Aztecs up 59-53, and they never looked back from there. 

The Aztecs would end up winning 66-56 and finished the game shooting 45% from the field.

The Aztecs had 16 turnovers, five of them coming from the starting point guard. “Trey played great. I just wish he didn’t have five turnovers,” said Brian Dutcher following the game. Pulliam finished the game with 15 points to go along with seven rebounds. 

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The biggest surprise of this game may have been the Aztecs outside shooting, where they shot 44%, making eight threes. A big part of that was Seiko, who was 3-for-4 from distance. “I haven’t shot that well early… I’m going to have to step up,” said Adam Seiko following his 11-point performance. 

SDSU was without Lamont Butler, Aguek Arop, and Tahirou Diabate in this game. The five available seniors for the Aztecs all played at least 30 minutes. 

The Aztecs will look to tighten things up as they have nine days before their next game against St. Mary’s in Phoenix in what Seiko described as a game they “need to win.” As of right now, it stands as a Quad 1 opportunity, and a win would go a long way for this team come March.

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