CAA Men's Basketball

Charleston Outlasted By San Diego State In NCAA First Round

Charleston Outlasted By San Diego State In NCAA First Round

Charleston battled back from a deficit to pull even, but fifth-seeded San Diego State outlasted the Cougars in the first round of the men's NCAA Tournament.

Mar 17, 2023 by FloHoops Staff
Charleston Outlasted By San Diego State In NCAA First Round

Charleston battled back from a nine-point second-half deficit to pull even in the closing minutes, but fifth-seeded San Diego State closed the game on a 10-4 run to outlast the Cougars, 63-57, in the first round of the men's NCAA Basketball Tournament.

Charleston (31-4) led by seven points in the first half at Amway Center, and for 15 minutes of the opening stanza, before a key stretch by San Diego State (28-6) put the Aztecs in front heading into the break.

Ante Brzovic (12 points) led three Cougars in double figures, while Ryan Larson added 11 and Dalton Bolon chipped in with 10. 

Charleston limited itself to 10 turnovers in the contest, but SDSU’s top-10 3-point defense held the Cougars to 5-of-24 from distance.

Charleston held San Diego State to six points and forced eight turnovers in the game’s first eight minutes, and led by as many as seven on four occasions in the first half, fueled in large part by a 7-2 stretch that put the Cougars in front 20-13 with 7:35 to go in the half, That included five points from Larson and two from Jaylon Scott.

The Aztecs would erase the Cougar advantage with an 11-0 spurt, going in front 28-24, and held CofC without a field goal for four minutes. 

Charleston responded with five straight points to briefly regain a one-point edge, before San Diego State scored the final four points of the half to take a 32-29 lead into the break.

The game was knotted at 34, before a 7-0 San Diego State run prompted a Charleston timeout with 15:15 to play. 

The Aztecs pushed their lead to nine at 45-36, before 3-pointers from Bolon and Raekwon Horton helped Charleston start chipping away, getting to within three at 49-46 and trading points with SDSU.

Charleston tied the game at 53 on a pair of Brzovic free throws, followed by a Brzovic layup, with 3:27 to go.

SDSU took the lead with the next five points, moving in front 58-53 with 1:35 to play. 

Ben Burnham followed with a pair of free throws, and the Cougars nearly got a stop at the other end, but a foul on a 3-point attempt late in the shot clock sent San Diego State to the line. The Aztecs converted on two of the three shots. 

Larson went to the basket for two more points, before the Aztecs closed the game with free throws.

Charleston’s 31 wins this season were a CAA record, as were the 28 victories in the regular season. The Cougars were ranked, or receiving votes, for 16 weeks in the AP Top 25 Poll, with a high of No. 18 in January.