San Diego -- The San Diego Christian Hawks came into Viejas Arena looking to steal a game from the San Diego State Aztecs. The Hawks wanted to prove that they can contend at a high level on a big stage, and they did just that losing by just 10 points, 71-61 Wednesday night.
The 10 points is the closest SDC has come in defeating the Aztecs in the six times against SDSU.
The Hawks started the game, down 13-4 right out of the gate. Some ball clubs usually count themselves out and concede when things are not going their way early in a game. SDC did the exact opposite, competing on both ends of the floor, attacking the basket, and playing with heart. SDSU thought they could outmatch their opponent on the defensive glass, having a size advantage usually plays a key role, but the Hawks managed to only lose the rebounding battle by three, 40-37 to end the game.
In the first half, SDC guard Dalante Dunklin contributed with 8 points on 4-of-9 from the field, six rebounds, and one turnover in 16 minutes of action. Dunklin willed the Hawks offensively, creating havoc for SDSU in transition and showed how aggressive he truly is by attacking the basket.
The Aztecs went up 36-20 at the half, a respectable outcome for SDC, competing in all phases of the game and matching SDSU's intensity. The Hawks turned the ball over five times in the first half, while the Aztecs turned it over six times. Leading the turnover differential by one to end the half. SDC swingman Trevor English struggled to find his rhythm in the first half, only putting up six shots with no rebounds or assists. He managed to string together five points, but what English had in store for the second half kept the crowd skeptical.
SDC managed to be down as low as 13 points, 46-33 in the second half. English became unconscious from three point range, piling on five three pointers in the second half.
"The coaches said keep shooting, and shots would start falling", English acknowledged after the game.
Shooters keep shooting and English never lost that confidence shooting the basketball. English tallied up 21 points on 7-of-14 shooting, four rebounds, one assist, and 6-of-10 from the three point line. An eruption in the second half from a player that struggled to find his shot in the first half says a lot about the player himself.
Dalante Dunklin ended the night with 15 points on 6-of-15 shooting, 11 rebounds, and three assists. A double-double for Dunklin gave the Hawks a major boost on both ends of the floor and his contribution played a key part in SDC's valiant effort.
SDC cut the deficit to 10 and that is how it ended with the Aztecs holding on 71-61 to move improve to 2-1 on the season. Forward Malik Pope led SDSU with 14 points on 6-of-12 shooting and five rebounds. Forward Dakari Allen started in place of point guard Winston Sheppard tonight adding 14 points on 5-of-7 shooting to go along with three rebounds and two assists.
The Hawks shot nearly 47 percent from the field in the second half to outscore the Aztecs 41-35. SDC showed a lot of positives in the second half of play, proving that they can compete with a local powerhouse in SDSU. San Diego Christian head coach, Edgar Mendez spoke after the game and talked about how comfortable his team felt against an up tempo Aztec team, "We discussed with our guys before the game that we have to use this to get better, we have to win these battles".
Trevor English on the team's success moving forward, " if we can just bring this type of energy to every game, I think we will have success in our conference and hopefully get to Kansas City."
A confident Hawks team look to stay up beat against Cal State San Marcos on Saturday, Nov. 21 at 7 p.m.
By Elias Totah