SAN DIEGO (AP) — Before his No. 18 San Diego State Aztecs beat crosstown rival San Diego 72-56, coach Steve Fisher put the game in perspective for his players.
For the second straight day, Fisher talked to his players about the massacre at an elementary school in Newtown, Conn.
“We talked about the tragedy that occurred out in Connecticut. We had talked about it yesterday in practice,” Fisher said. “The senseless act of violence, you just say as a parent, or as anybody, that your heart goes out to not just the families that were involved but everyone surrounding that terrible tragedy that occurred. And I think all of us need to say a little prayer and hope that we can get some form of legislation that will hopefully help prevent some of these things that are going on.
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“What we do is fun and games. The real world goes on around us. I think our kids were very cognizant and reflected along that line, also.”
Before the national anthem, a moment of silence was held for the shooting victims.
Chase Tapley scored 15 points, including consecutive 3-pointers during a decisive 12-0 run, and Jamaal Franklin had 14 to lead the Aztecs (8-1), who won their eighth straight game since losing the season-opener to No. 4 Syracuse. SDSU beat USD (6-6) for the seventh straight time, the longest streak in the rivalry. Overall, SDSU has won 10 of 11 against the Toreros.
DeShawn Stephens scored 11 points for SDSU, which had an eight-day layoff for finals.
USD’s Ken Rancifer scored 16, while Chris Manresa and Chris Anderson had 11 each. Johnny Dee, who came in leading the Toreros with 15 points, was scoreless in the first half and finished with nine.
“We won the game because we guarded like crazy,” Fisher said. “We did a great job defensively. Everybody. In particular, I thought Chase Tapley in the first half did not let Johnny Dee get any clean looks. And he’s a guy who hurt us last year. He’s hurt everybody they’ve played.”
The Toreros stayed with SDSU for the opening 10 minutes, using a 6-0 run to lead 18-16.
The Aztecs then scored the next 12 points to take their first double-digit lead of the night at 28-18. JJ O’Brien and James Rahon hit jumpers and Stephens made a layup before Tapley hit his consecutive 3s.
USD closed the gap to 32-26 after Rancifer and Mike Davis made consecutive 3-pointers.
SDSU scored the final seven points of the half to take a 39-26 lead at the break. Franklin made two free throws, O’Brien a layup and Tapley was fouled while taking a 3-pointer and made all three free throws.
“It’s always a tough competition with USD,” Tapley said. “We just love the rivalry and love the competition. We were anxious to play. We hadn’t played a game in a long time. We wanted to come out and compete and really jump on them from the start on defense. This week we were really putting an emphasis on defense.”
USD coach Bill Grier said SDSU’s height was too much.
“Their length is going to bother a lot of people. I thought Tapley did a really good job of not giving Johnny any space. They force you to rush shots because of their length.”