The scoreboard does not lie: San Diego State (26-9, 16-2), as predicted, was just too big, strong, fast, and skilled for a team like IPFW (24-10, 10-7), that to their credit played with tremendous heart and never gave up but nonetheless succumbed by the score of 79-55.
SDSU showed the vast improvement gains from the year, dating back to the beginning of the season in non-conference action all the way through conference play till now. No traces were left behind from that team that suffered humiliating losses to USD and Grand Canyon. On Tuesday night, the Aztecs proved that they belonged in the NCAA Tournament without question.
This game was never in doubt. San Diego State led at half 40-22, and only increased their lead in the second. Steve Fisher even had the luxury of playing all the guys on the bench, including non-rotation players like Parker U'u and Niksha Federico.
Everything went so well for the Aztecs that I am sure everyone involved with the program forgot they were playing in the NIT and just enjoyed the moment.
Winston Shepard, the senior forward, certainly looked like he did, recording the first triple-double in SDSU basketball history with 10 points, 10 rebounds, and 12 assists.
After the game, Shepard was asked about the milestone. "Today was an up and down game and I'm just happy to get it. But, I don't want the focus to just be about that. We won the game, you know, we played a very good basketball team and we took care of the first step. Now we have a good team coming in. I feel good tonight, but tomorrow it will be time to move on."
Two other Aztecs scored in double figures. Malik Pope scored 15, while Dakarai Allen contributed with 10. In total, 10 players scored at least a bucket for SDSU.
IPFW who normally scores in the 80 point mark was held to their second lowest scoring game of the season. Most of their offensive output came from three players the touted Max Landis scored 14, Joe Reed had 17 points, and John Konchar added 10 to combine for 41 of the Mastodons 55 points.
Up next for San Diego State is the Washington Huskies (19-14, 9-9) at Viejas Arena on Monday, March 21, 8:30 PM PST, and it will be televised on ESPN2. The Huskies won their first round NIT match up against Long Beach State 107-102, who the Aztecs also defeated earlier in the season 76-72.