San Diego State muscles past Creighton, makes 1st Final Four

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Jordan Prather/USA TODAY Sports
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LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Darrion Trammell converted a go-ahead free throw after he was fouled on a floater with 1.2 seconds left, and San Diego State muscled its way into its first Final Four, grinding out a 57-56 victory over Creighton on Sunday in the NCAA Tournament’s South Region final.

Lamont Butler scored 18 points and Trammell had 12 for the fifth-seeded Aztecs (31-6), who slowed down the high-scoring, sixth-seeded Bluejays (24-13) and became the first Mountain West Conference team to reach the national semifinals.

The experienced Aztecs, in their sixth season under coach Brian Dutcher, will play the surprising East Region champion, ninth-seeded Florida Atlantic, on Saturday in Houston for a spot in the national title game.

With the game tied at 56-all on San Diego State’s final possession, Trammell drove toward the free-throw line, elevated for the shot and was fouled by Creighton’s Ryan Nembhard. Trammell missed the first free throw but converted the second.

Creighton’s Baylor Scheierman threw the ensuing inbound pass the length of the floor. San Diego State’s Aguek Arop and Creighton’s Arthur Kaluma both jumped for it and the ball deflected out of bounds. Officials reviewed the play and determined that time had expired, and the celebration was on for the Aztecs.

Scheierman had tied the game at 56-all when he stole an inbounds pass and converted a layup with 34 seconds remaining.

Ryan Kalkbrenner scored 17 points and Scheierman and Arthur Kaluma had 12 apiece for the Bluejays, who went 2 of 17 from 3-point range.

The Aztecs, who got this far thanks to defense and physical play, held the Bluejays to 23 second-half points on 28% shooting. Creighton shot 40% overall.

San Diego State shot 38% but got clutch baskets from Nathan Mensah, whose jumper gave the Aztecs a 56-54 lead with 1:37 left, and Arop, who made two straight shots to put San Diego State ahead 54-50 with 3:03 remaining.

Creighton, which beat San Diego State in overtime in the first round of last year’s NCAA Tournament, fell just short of joining Big East rival UConn in the Final Four.

Kaluma played against his brother, San Diego State’s Adam Seiko. Their parents sat a few rows up at midcourt, sitting quietly before joining Seiko to celebrate.

San Diego State ousts No. 1 overall seed Alabama from NCAAs

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Jamie Rhodes/USA TODAY Sports
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LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Darrion Trammell and San Diego State used a dominant defensive performance to knock top overall seed Alabama out of the NCAA Tournament on Friday night, bottling up All-America freshman Brandon Miller in a 71-64 victory in the Sweet 16.

Trammell scored 21 points while Miller, whose outstanding season was marred by off-the-court complications, was held to nine points on 3-of-19 shooting and had six turnovers.

The fifth-seeded Aztecs (30-6) will face either Creighton or Princeton on Sunday in the West Region final as they seek their first Final Four in program history. With fellow No. 1 seeds Purdue and Kansas losing during the tournament’s first weekend, Houston – which played Miami on Friday night – was the only top-seeded team remaining.

San Diego State trailed 48-39 midway through the second half before going on a 12-0 run and controlling the game from there. The Aztecs finished with eight blocked shots – five by Nathan Mensah – and forced 14 turnovers.

The March Madness run of Alabama (31-6) was clouded by its response to the Jan. 15 fatal shooting of a 23-year-old woman in Tuscaloosa, which led to capital murder charges against a then-Crimson Tide player, Darius Miles.

Miller was at the scene of the shooting and has not been charged, but police have said in court documents that Miles texted Miller to bring him his gun. Authorities have said Miller is a cooperating witness, and he did not miss any playing time. Miller has received armed security protection during the tournament.

Mark Sears had 16 points and Jahvon Quinerly and Charles Bediako scored 10 each for Alabama, which shot 32% overall and a miserable 3 of 27 (11.1%) from 3-point range. The Crimson Tide fell short of the second Elite Eight berth in school history.

“Alabama’s a great team. They have a lot of talented players and individuals,” Trammell said. “We knew it was going to be hard. It was a dogfight. Very physical.”

Sears’ layup got Alabama within 66-64 with 46 seconds remaining, but Matt Bradley made two free throws and Micah Parrish followed by making three of four attempts, including two with 17 seconds left.

Jaedon LeDee finished with 12 points for the Aztecs.

San Diego State dominates Furman 75-52 to reach Sweet 16

Matt Pendleton-USA TODAY Sports

ORLANDO, Fla. – San Diego State had little trouble ending the run of March Madness darling Furman, getting 16 points from Micah Parrish to pace a balanced scoring attack and pulling away for a 75-52 win on Saturday in the second round of the NCAA Tournament.

Darrion Trammell had 13 points, Lamont Butler added 12 and leading scorer Matt Bradley finished with 10 for San Diego State (29-6), which is heading to its first Sweet 16 since 2004.

The fifth-seeded Aztecs have won 11 of their past 13 games and will play top overall seed Alabama next week in the South Region semifinals in Louisville, Kentucky.

“You should play your best at the end of the season, and we’re playing our best basketball as the end of the season,” coach Brian Dutcher said.

“Obviously we hang our hat on defense. That’s the one thing that we do every game,” Dutcher added. “Then when we get the opportunity, we start making shots and play good offensively, then we’re very good.”

San Diego State is the first Mountain West Conference team to reach the Sweet 16 since Nevada in 2018. It’ll be the third regional semifinal appearance for the Aztecs and the seventh for the Mountain West overall.

Two days after shrugging off cold shooting and overcoming a 12-point, second-half deficit to shock No. 4 seed Virginia 68-67 on JP Pegues’ bracket-busting 3-pointer, Furman was outmuscled and gradually worn down by the much more physical Aztecs.

The Paladins feel they still showed they belong in March Madness.

“We wish we would have played better. Wish we would have shot the ball a little bit better. But some of that you have to give credit to (San Diego State). But there’s nothing that can take away what this group has done,” coach Bob Richey said.

“It’s an unbelievable story, and I couldn’t be more proud of our team, at a time where I’m extremely disappointed that we didn’t advance,” Richey added. “But it’s really hard to not pull the lens back a little bit and still see what that group was able to accomplish.”

San Diego State led 39-25 at the half, getting 14 points off the bench from Parrish and limiting Furman to one field goal over the final 11 minutes leading into the break.

The Aztecs took control during a 15-0 run that turned a two-point deficit into a 30-17 lead. Furman missed seven straight shots and turned the ball over four times during a 9:56 field goal drought that dumped the Paladins into the big halftime hole.

Southern Conference player and the year Jalen Slawson picked up his fourth foul with 16:27 remaining and fouled out shortly after returning midway through the second half. The super senior stomped the floor in frustration, drawing a technical foul that gave San Diego State a pair of free throws that put the Aztecs up 60-37.

Mike Bothwell led the 13th-seeded Paladins (28-8) with 15 points. Alex Williams had 11 and Pegues finished with 11 as Furman shot 32%, including 6 of 26 from 3-point range.

Like Slawson, Bothwell is a super senior who returned to Furman for a fifth season after the Paladins were denied the Southern Conference’s automatic NCAA Tournament berth by a buzzer-beater in their league championship game.

Making this year’s field, then getting Furman’s first win in the tournament in 49 years, created memories that’ll last a lifetime.

“It’s something no one can take away from this team,” Bothwell said. “Greatest team in the school’s history. No one has won more games than us, and we enjoyed it. That’s the best part about it.”


Furman: The Paladins lose Slawson and Bothwell, but feel they’ve set the tone for continued success.

“Sometimes what success can do is make you complacent, and I think the challenge going forward for us is to understand this has to make us hungrier,” Richey said. “This has to push us every day to want to get back here and continue to show that we belong in the NCAA Tournament.”

San Diego State: The Aztecs are 0-2 in Sweet 16 games. Dutcher feels this team is capable of going further.

“Now that we’ve settled into the rhythm, and we know what this is about, I think we’ll play better moving forward,” the coach said. “And that’s really encouraging moving into the Sweet 16.”

San Diego State tops Charleston 63-57 in NCAA tourney

Russell Lansford-USA TODAY Sports

ORLANDO, Fla. – Matt Bradley’s last NCAA Tournament game essentially ended with him bobbling the ball out of bounds, a costly turnover against Creigton in an overtime loss last year.

There was zero chance he was going to do it again.

Bradley scored 17 points and made play after play down the stretch, including hitting two free throws in the final minute, and No. 5 seed San Diego State held on to beat 12th-seeded College of Charleston 63-57 in the first round of the NCAA Tournament on Thursday.

The victory was a measure of redemption for Bradley, whose mistake last year proved costly in the three-point loss.

“I’m just thinking positive things,” said Bradley, who insisted he had no flashbacks to the gaffe. “I’m looking at the bench and everybody trusts me now. Nobody side-eying. I think I have full trust in my teammates and in my coaches on making that free throw, so it felt really good.”

The senior provided pivotal plays in this one, helping the Aztecs (28-6) win their first game in the Big Dance since 2015. They ended a four-game losing streak in the tournament and snapped an 11-game skid for the Mountain West Conference.

“Everybody makes us aware of (the losing streak),” San Diego State coach Brian Dutcher said. “The thing that you can’t lose sight of is every team and every season is different. You know, there is no history.

“This team is creating its own history right now. … We’re not worried about past failures or successes. We’re only focused on the moment, and that’s how you win games.”

The Cougars (31-4) lost for the first time in six weeks and have not won an NCAA tournament game since 1997.

San Diego State advanced to face 13th-seeded Furman in the South Region at the Amway Center on Saturday. The Paladins used a late steal and 3-pointer to stun No. 4 seed Virginia four years to the day since the Cavaliers became the first and only No. 1 seed to lose in the opening round.

Charleston looked to provide another upset in Orlando, but coach Pat Kelsey’s scrappy team simply couldn’t do enough down the stretch.

San Diego State did.

Bradley scored on a driving layup coming out of a timeout with 2:37 to play, breaking a tie and ending a nearly 3-minute scoring drought for the Aztecs. Micah Parrish followed with a huge 3-pointer, giving them a little breathing room in the final minutes.

Charleston looked like it might be able to rally, but Jaylon Scott was called for a foul as Bradley shot a 3. He hit two of three from the charity stripe to essentially seal it.

Ante Brzovic led Charleston with 12 points and eight rebounds. Ryan Larson added 11 points, and seventh-year senior Dalton Bolon finished his college career with 10 points.

“These seniors, although they played their last game in a Charleston uniform, they’re going to leave a legacy that’s going to last decades,” Kelsey said.

Bradley, one of four senior starters for San Diego State, chipped in seven rebounds and four assists.

“We understand how important it is to close out games because in March Madness anybody can win,” Bradley said. “Ranking doesn’t matter. Nothing matters. The hardest team is going to win, and that’s what we did.”


Charleston: The Cougars had three graduate-senior starters who carried them to the tournament, and Kelsey will probably turn to the transfer portal to find replacements. The one glaring weakness against San Diego State was a post presence as the team got outscored by 12 points in the paint.

San Diego State: The Aztecs salvaged what looked to be another rough start for the Mountain West. Nevada lost in a play-in game Wednesday night to extend the league’s losing skid to double digits, and Utah State made it 11 straight with a loss to Missouri early Thursday. But the conference champs stepped up and got the league back in the win column.


Charleston gets to work rebuilding a senior-laden roster. The Cougars have five seniors to replace before the 2023-24 season.

San Diego State beats Utah State for Mountain West title

Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports

LAS VEGAS — Matt Bradley scored 16 points and Jaedon LeDee added 13 to lead No. 20 San Diego State to a 62-57 victory over Utah State in the Mountain West Tournament championship game.

The Aztecs (27-6) claimed their seventh tournament title, and second in three years. This also was their conference-record 15th appearance in the title game.

San Diego State clinched the conference’s bid to the NCAA Tournament, though it was never in doubt the Aztecs would be selected. What kind of seed San Diego State receives remains to be seen.

Utah State (26-8) also figures to be headed to the tournament when the selections are announced.

This was the fourth time in the last five years the teams have played each other in the Mountain West championship game. Utah State won the 2019 and 2020 title games, and San Diego State went home with the 2021 trophy. Boise State temporarily ended the monopoly last season by beating the Aztecs 53-52.

Neither team shot well, with San Diego State making 33.3% of its shots compared to 37.1% for the Aggies.

No San Diego State players reached double-figure scoring other than Ledee and Mitchell. For Utah State, Steven Ashworth scored 13 points and Trevin Dorius 12.

The Aggies were hot early, however, going on a 12-2 run in the first half to take a 26-15 lead with 6:57 left, but then went cold. They failed to make another field goal until 1:43 into the second half, but somehow didn’t fall behind during that stretch.

But the Aztecs got close, and eventually went back and forth with Utah State in the second half. San Diego State nearly put away the game by going up 53-46 with 3:03 left, but the Aggies got back to within three points with 48 seconds remaining and two points with 30.3 seconds to go.

San Diego State closed out the game at the free throw line by making 9 of 10 free throws in the final 43 seconds.


Utah State: The Aggies entered the game fourth nationally in 3-point percentage at 40.1, but struggled badly against San Diego State’s long, athletic defense. Utah State made just 4 of 24 3-point attempts.

San Diego State: The Aztecs come in waves. Nine players were in the game, and each was on the floor for at least 16 minutes and eight at least 19. All nine scored and collected rebounds.


Utah State: The Aggies have a NET ranking of No. 18, so it would be quite a surprise if they aren’t selected to the NCAA Tournament.

San Diego State: A potential six seed could be coming San Diego State’s way, but the Aztecs also might have worked their way into a No. 5.

Rice sparks Boise State past No. 18 San Diego State, 66-60

Brian Losness-USA TODAY Sports

BOISE, Idaho – Max Rice scored 26 points and reeled off 12 straight points in a 14-0 run to close out the game and Boise State beat No. 18 San Diego State 66-60 on Tuesday night.

The Broncos (23-7, 13-4 Mountain West Conference) avenged a 20-point loss to San Diego State on Feb. 3 and remained perfect at home in conference play. It was the Broncos’ first win over a ranked team this season.

San Diego State (23-6, 14-3), which had already claimed a share of the conference crown with its buzzer-beating win over New Mexico on Saturday, failed to hold onto a late nine-point lead.

With the Aztecs staked to a comfortable 60-52 lead with 4:48 remaining, Rice took over.

Playing in what could be his final home game on senior night, Rice hit a free throw before sinking a trio of 3-pointers to give Boise State a 62-60 lead, its first since the 17:01 mark of the second half.

Then on the Aztecs’ next possession, Rice stole a pass at mid-court and drove in for a layup, sending the Boise State crowd into a frenzy.

Marcus Shaver Jr., who missed the first meeting between the two teams with a right ankle injury, hit two free throws to push the lead to six in the final minute.

San Diego State couldn’t hit a shot over its final two possessions and the Broncos ran out the clock, resulting in the Boise State fans storming the court.

Tyson Degenhart scored 14 for Boise State, while Naje Smith added 10.

Matt Bradley paced San Diego State with 16 points, and Micah Parrish chipped in 11.

San Diego State can still win the regular-season conference title outright with a victory against Mountain West cellar dwellers Wyoming on Saturday.


San Diego State: Hosts Wyoming on Saturday.

Boise State: Plays at Utah State on Saturday.