With the game tied at 52, San Diego State took over with its' three-point shooting and closed out the game on a 30-11 run for an 82-63 victory over Tulsa Friday afternoon in semifinal round action at the Hawaiian Airlines Diamond Head Classic.
Tulsa (6-5) will play either San Francisco or Illinois State on Christmas Day, Dec. 25, at 5:00 p.m. (CT)/1:00 p.m. (HT) in the Third-place game. San Diego State advances to Sunday's Championship game with an overall 7-4 record.
"San Diego State shot the ball well, but we didn't help ourselves with 23 turnovers. We have to be tough with the ball. There length makes it tough, but lot of our turnovers came from us being too loose with the ball. We had too many unforced turnovers," said Tulsa Head Coach Frank Haith.
SDSU's sharp-shooting in the second half, hitting 8-of-15 treys, and a season-high 23 Tulsa turnovers were too much for the Hurricane to overcome. The Aztecs out-scored Tulsa 26-8 off of turnovers on 16 steals. San Diego State converted 46-percent of its field goals and 41-percent from three-point range for the game, making 13-of-32 treys. The Aztecs connected on 53-percent from both the field and behind the arc in the second half.
Junior Etou led the Hurricane with 18 points, while freshman Lawson Korita was Tulsa's only other double-figure scorer with 10 points. SDSU's Jeremy Hemsley led all scorers with 20 points, while Trey Kell added 19 points as the duo made 8-of-15 three-pointers in the game.
Tulsa held a 37-24 advantage on the boards over the Aztecs.
"We rebounded the ball well, but our inability to take care of the ball did us in." Our quick shots speared their offense, and that hurt us," said Haith. "They had 5 three's in a row and that's how they got their separation. We weren't able to score in that stretch, and that was the difference in the game."
It was a four-minute span in the second half that put San Diego State in the drivers seat, as the Aztecs knocked down 6-of-7 three pointers during that stretch. SDSU broke a 52-52 tie and behind its three-point shooting went on an 18-2 run to take a 70-54 lead with 7:05 left on the game clock.
Trailing by four points at halftime, Pat Birt's basket at the 16:17 mark tied the game at 45. The game was tied again at 47, 49, 51 and 52 before the Aztecs went on its game-closing stretch. Martins Igbanu's layup at 12:24 gave Tulsa its first lead at 51-49 since an 11-9 Hurricane lead in the first half.
"I thought for a half, we played a pretty good first half. San Diego State is a tough-minded team and very physical, and it's the type of team that you can't give any help. We weren't as tough as you need to be to win that type of game. We'll learn from this game, and have to get ready to play another game on Sunday," added Haith.
Tulsa began the game with two straight 3-pointers that led to an 8-0 lead, but San Diego State responded quickly and rattled off a 14-3 run to take its first lead of the game, 14-11, a lead that the Aztecs held for the remainder of the first 20 minutes.
SDSU increased its lead to a first-half high of eight points to 33-25 at the 5:25 mark. The Hurricane whittled the lead away by scoring the next seven points, cutting its deficit to 33-32 at the 2:49 mark on a Lawson Korita three-pointer.
Junior Etou's trey with 1:03 left on the first-half clock closed the gap to one point again at 38-37. Tulsa had an opportunity to take a halftime lead, or stay to within one-point, but SDSU's Kell knocked down a three-pointer from 24-feet out following a Tulsa turnover to give the Aztecs a 41-37 halftime lead.
At the half, Etou led all scorers with 14 points, while the Hurricane out-shot the Aztecs from the field, 48 to 39 percent. SDSU's 10 first-half steals led to a 13-2 scoring advantage from points off of turnovers.