NCAA BK

St. Katherine College loses 118-35 to No. 20 SDSU

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SAN DIEGO (AP)

There were small victories for tiny St. Katherine College despite being overwhelmed 118-35 by No. 20 San Diego State on Friday night.

''They were very hospitable and they treated us well,'' said guard Joshua White, who led the Firebirds with nine points. ''It's nice to have Gatorades and stuff in the locker room. We don't really get that at our place.''

And, as coach Scott Mitchell said: ''Well, I can thank God that nobody got decapitated.''

Winston Shepard scored 21 points and Dwayne Polee had 19 points and 12 rebounds as San Diego State won its ninth straight game.

SDSU (10-1) finished a three-game stretch against outmanned teams. The competition gets considerably tougher when the Aztecs open Mountain West Conference play at Colorado State on Wednesday and then visit No. 16 Kansas on Jan. 5.

The 83-point win was San Diego State's largest victory margin since moving to Division I in 1970-71. The previous largest was 60 points, 128-68 over Morgan State on Dec. 1, 1984. The Aztecs became the first Division I team since Oregon State in 2000 to hold three straight opponents under 40 points.

St. Katherine College (2-12), a tiny orthodox Christian school in northern San Diego County, is playing its inaugural season of hoops at the NAIA level. In their only other games against Division I teams, the Firebirds lost 107-36 at Weber State and 88-39 to Utah Valley.

So why schedule this game?

''Well, I'm a competitor and I want my guys to be competitive,'' Mitchell said. ''As a little kid you want to go to Disneyland. As a grown-up basketball player living in San Diego, you want to play the Aztecs. ... If they wanted to schedule this game on the moon at midnight, we would have been there, too. Our guys want to play, whether they're hurt, whether they're tired. Everybody wants minutes. That's what I like about our team.''

The Firebirds' latest mismatch started when 6-foot-10 Skylar Spencer controlled the opening tip against 6-7 Jonathan Wood, St. Katherine's tallest starter. Matt Shrigley hit a 3-pointer and SDSU raced to leads of 13-1, 27-3 and 43-10.

The Firebirds at least hit the rim on their first six shots, with their first air ball coming on their seventh shot, by White. St. Katherine's first point, a free throw by Alex Perez, pulled the Firebirds to 13-1. Their first field goal, a left-handed shot by Dante Miller, made it 20-3 with 12:30 to go in the first half.

''We wish the outcome would have been a little more in our favor,'' White said. ''We would love to be back here. We all want to play at this level. We all want to see competition at this level. It's the only way to get better.''

The Aztecs led 63-17 at halftime. They played without Josh Davis, who had wisdom teeth pulled earlier in the week.

SDSU made it 100-31 on a 3-pointer by Aqeel Quinn with 6:09 to go.

Quinn scored 14 points, Shrigley 12 and Xavier Thames and Spencer 10 apiece for SDSU.

The Firebirds were scheduled to catch a 6:15 a.m. flight Saturday for a game at Utah that afternoon.

Tagged: San Diego, San Diego State, South Dakota State

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