San Diego State didn’t punch the College of Charleston in the mouth in the opening minutes of their game Thursday night – it just felt like they did.
Winston Shepard scored 15 points and Matt Shrigley came off the bench to chip in 12 points to lead San Diego State past the College of Charleston, 72-52, in the opening round of the Wooden Legacy tournament Thursday night at Titan Gym in Fullerton, Calif.
The Cougars (2-4) will face the loser of the Creighton-Arizona State game tomorrow night beginning at midnight.
San Diego State (3-1) used their size, speed and athleticism to literally run past the Cougars at the beginning of the game. The Aztecs scored almost at will with their potent transition game, beating the Cougars down floor repeatedly in the opening minutes. San Diego converted on eight of its first nine possessions to open up a 17-1 run less than seven minutes into the game. Shrigley’s third 3-pointer of the first half gave the Aztecs a 29-7 lead with 9:24 to play before intermission.
“I thought they punched us right in the face at the beginning of the game,” said College of Charleston coach Doug Wojcik. “Our transition defense wasn’t very good and they got a lot of layups. It’s a feel good thing. We let them feel good about themselves. We let them feel comfortable. It wasn’t a good start for us.
“That’s probably the longest and most athletic team we have played this year. It was kind of hard to get back in the game when you dig yourself into a hole like that.”
While the Aztecs couldn’t miss, the Cougars rarely made a shot, missing their first 10 shots from the floor. The Cougars didn’t get their first field goal until David Wishon’s tap in at the 13:20 mark.
The Cougars made just 18 of 55 shots and finished the game shooting just 33 percent from the floor, including four of 16 from 3-point range.
“We missed a lot of open shots,” said College of Charleston freshman guard Joe Chealey. “We get those looks a lot of times and we make them. It’s one of those nights where it just wasn’t falling for us. But, that’s not where the problem was. We didn’t do a good job in our transition defense and stopping them from getting easy buckets. That’s where the problem was tonight.”
The Cougars found their footing late in the first half going on a 9-0 run and cut the gap to 29-16 on Theo Johnson’s 3-pointer with 6:37 to play before intermission.
But San Diego answered with an 8-2 run of its own and eventually led 37-21 at halftime.
Charleston came out of the locker room much stronger than they started the game. An Adjehi Baru layup and two free throws cut the gap to 37-25 with 18:49 to play.
The Aztecs pushed their advantage to 46-31 on JJ O’Brien’s jump hook with 15:18 to play.
The Cougars cut it to 12 points twice, once on Anthony Stitt’s 3-pointer with 14:44 to play that cut the gap to, 46-34, and again on Anthony Thomas’ layup, 48-36, with 12:49 left.
But that’s as close as the Cougars would get the rest of the way.
“It was a nice win for us against a good team,” said San Diego State coach Coach Steve Fisher. “Coach (Doug) Wojcik will probably say they didn’t play very well, but we had something to do with that. Our defense was pretty good tonight. It’s hard when you get behind by 15 or 20 points in the first half.”
The Cougars were led by Baru’s eight points. Chealey and Terrance O’Donohue each added seven points.
“I thought Terrance came in and did a good job for us,” Wojcik said. “He battled, got a couple of rebounds, scored on a nice catch-and-shoot and was one of the few bright spots for us tonight.”
Charleston head coach Doug Wojcik yells at his team to defend against San Diego State in the first half of an NCAA college basketball game at the Wooden Legacy tournament on Thursday, Nov. 28, 2013, in Fullerton, Calif. (AP Photo/Alex Gallardo)×
San Diego State forward Matt Shrigley, left, battles Charleston forward Willis Hall (53) for a rebound in the second half of an NCAA college basketball game at the Wooden Legacy tournament Thursday, Nov. 28, 2013, in Fullerton, Calif. San Diego State won 72-52. (AP Photo/Alex Gallardo)×