San Diego, Calif.—The first stretch of NCAA Division I games for the San Diego Christian College men's basketball team came to a close on Tuesday night against the best team head coach Tim Cook's squad will face this season.
The Hawks visited Viejas Arena to battle the #23 San Diego State Aztecs, fresh off the Aztecs loss to #8 Syracuse on Sunday. The Aztecs jumped up early, and carried that momentum to a 91-57 win over SDCC in front of 12,414 fans.
"We will never see a team like that again," said Cook. "I have not seen such athleticism and depth on a basketball court and the depth they have is outstanding."
"I am very proud of my guys. They competed for 40 minutes, on every possession, and I loved the way we played tonight. We have 13 new guys and we are trying to find our way. It is a process, but that process is getting closer to completion."
SDCC hung tough early, with a pair of three pointers on consecutive possessions from Kwaminique Brandon and Kevin Dawson cut the SDSU lead to 11-8. The Aztecs then pieced together a 17-3 run to take control of the game. The Aztecs stretched their lead to 49-24 at intermission.
With their size, SDSU controlled the paint, outscoring SDCC 32-10 down low in the first half. In addition, the Aztecs had 13 offensive rebounds in the first half which led to 19 second chance points.
Out of the break, Cook settled his team down, and SDCC kept pace with SDSU for much of the second half.
Derek Dickerson's three pointer right before a media timeout at the 11:47 mark kept the Hawks in step with SDSU, as the Aztecs only held a 13-12 advantage at that point in the second half.
The Hawks shot 40.7% from the field in the second half, including 6-13 from beyond the arc. The Hawks were outscored in the second half by a slim 42-33 margin.
SDCC was led by Dawson with 15 points and 6 rebounds. Brandon added 14 points.
Pre-season Third Team All-American Jamaal Franklin paced SDSU with 28 points and 12 rebounds, while Chase Tapley chipped in 18 points.
The Hawks move away from the initial stretch of D-I games, with six more on the schedule later, to face Claremont-Mudd-Scripps and University of Redlands, a pair of NCAA Division III teams from the SCIAC Conference.
"We go from three D-I games, to playing two of the best NCAA D-III schools on the West Coast," said Cook. "Against those teams, if you have any type of mental lapse or execution lull, they will take advantage of it."
"They play so smart and so hard on every possession that I don't really look at it as a break, but as an opportunity for us to get better in our execution and better defensively against guys that don't jump over the top of us."
The Hawks next travel to defending SCIAC Champion Claremont-Mudd-Scripps on Thursday, November 15.