Aztecs lose first MW game en route to Nevada

During the morning shootaround before games, it has become a tradition for San Diego State players to take turns attempting halffield shots. Everyone gets one.

Usually someone will make one. However, Nathan Mensah had never in five years … until Tuesday morning at an empty Lawlor Events Center.

A portent of good things to come?


The 22nd-ranked Aztecs had some good moments, but not enough to become the first away team to win at Lawlor or keep their winning streak alive on the road, losing 75-66 to the Wolf Pack.

The big picture: It made racing at Mountain West significantly tougher.

The Aztecs (17-5) missed a chance to cement their place at the top of the conference and now find themselves in an 8-2 draw with Boise State, their opponents on Friday at the Viejas Arena. Nevada, New Mexico and Utah State are all 6-3.

This was a close game for most of the time until the Wolf Pack (17-6) made the slightest breakup three minutes from time. A turnaround, fall-away baseline jumper by the 7-foot Will Baker over reigning Mountain West Defensive Player of the Year Nathan Mensah was followed by a twisted left-handed layup by right-hander Kenan Blackshear for 67-62.

That was enough to hold off the Aztecs, who were 4-0 at the Mountain West and had won seven straight games – the second-longest in the nation.

Soon the students were chanting “F-San Diego,” coming over the baseline tables as they stormed the floor.

The Aztecs have struggled in defense in the second half for the past few weeks and it finally bit them. Nevada shot 65.2 percent (15 of 23) after only 37 percent in the first 20 minutes.

Another issue: Just four second-chance points away from offensive rebounds after scoring 18, 14 and 14 in the previous three games.

Matt Bradley led them with 16 points, although only five came after halftime. Darrion Trammell had 10 but his fights continued behind the 3 point arc going 0 out of 5.

The Aztecs reached the first media timeout with an 11-4 lead, subduing a large crowd at the Lawlor Events Center on a chilly night in the northern Sierras.

The one thing you don’t want to do is give the home fans a reason to get upset, and the Aztecs did. Darrion Trammell was tied for a jump ball in front of the Nevada bench, then exchanged words and a jab that quickly cleared both benches.

Officials separated the players — however, Trammell continued to pine on the Nevada bench — and reviewed film during the time-out. Trammell was assessed a technical foul, giving the Wolf Pack two free throws and the ball. It appeared Trammell pushed Lucas.

Jarod Lucas did both, then Kenan Blackshear blew a 3 to complete a five-point ball and get the crowd involved.

Lucas focused on SDSU’s defensive game plan when they met at the Viejas Arena three weeks ago. Trammell chased him over and under staggered screens, holding him on 3 of 10 shots on 11 points – six below his average.

It was doubtful Lucas would even play in the second leg after injuring his left foot again in the loss to UNLV late on Saturday and being helped to the dressing room.

But he looked sprightly in the warm-up and by half-time already had 14 points on 5-of-9 shots – and finished on a game-high 26.

The Aztecs led 30-28 at the break and were probably lucky with that. They continued their habit of going long stretches without a shot (this lasted more than eight minutes) and Trammell and Lamont Butler both had two fouls (and Micah Parrish had three).

They also had six turnovers, three more than in the entire game against San Jose State on Saturday, and opened the second half with two more — both by Butler.

Coach Brian Dutcher was quick to send in substitutes and tried everything to stem a noticeable swing change as the Wolf Pack opened the half with a 10-3 run. He already had four reserves on the floor before the first half-time media break.

And then he rolled with them, leaving Bradley and three other starters on the bench as the backups dug them out of a seven-point hole and made it a game again. Bradley was pulled just 2½ minutes into the half after being hit twice on defense.


The Aztecs fly home late this morning and then head straight to Viejas Arena to begin preparations for Friday’s game against Boise State.

It’s the fourth game in 10 days, which means players won’t get a day off for 12 days.

The acting crew was Eric Curry, Randy McCall and DG Nelson. You may remember Nelson from SDSU’s game at Colorado State, where he had some questionable calls. (He had several Tuesday nights.).

Students behind a basket sang “You’re a Midget” at 5-foot-10 Trammell. After he got a steal, which he turned into a fast break layup, they chanted, “You’re still a midget.”