Tapley’s career game leads Aztecs to 80-58 winBy DOUG FERGUSON, AP Sports Writer Saturday, Dec 22, 2012
HONOLULU (AP)—Chase Tapley had the numbers in his favor on a fast break, and he had the ball in his hands. The way he was shooting, the best option was obvious.
Tapley pulled up on the right wing a few feet behind the 3-point line and let it fly, turning with a smile as the ball was still in the air. That was the last of his career-high 33 points Saturday as No. 18 San Diego State pulled away midway through the second half for an 80-58 win over San Francisco in the first round of the Diamond Head Classic.
“He’s really been shooting the ball well and he’s been shooting that ball the same way in practice,” San Diego State coach Steve Fisher said. “He’s playing with immense confidence and he’s a scorer. Always has been, always will be. He averaged in the 30s and 40s in high school, so he knows how to score. Right now, if he’s unguarded, you’re shocked if it doesn’t go in.”
The Aztecs (10-1) won their 10th straight game since a season-opening loss to Syracuse, and they now have beaten seven teams from California, a list that includes everyone from UCLA and USC to Point Loma Nazarene.
The Dons (5-5), opened the game with an 11-4 and tried to keep it close even as Tapley was getting warmed up. They never let San Diego State get more than 10 points ahead until just over six minutes were left in the game.
Cole Dickerson, who led San Francisco with 15 points and 12 rebounds, scored on a driving layup and hit a 3-pointer to pull the Dons within 45-43 with 13 minutes left. Coming off a timeout, Tapley scored on a layup and then started pouring them in from everywhere. The senior was 13-of-19 from the field, with nine of those from outside. His final 3-pointer gave the Aztecs a 68-52 lead and they were on their way.
“You’ve got to do little things really well. I thought we did an above-average job of that up until maybe the eight- or nine-minute mark of the second half,” San Francisco coach Rex Walters said. “You just can’t make mistakes. You’ve got to under quality of shot, take care of the ball. And over the course of the game, their quality of shot was better than ours.”
Perhaps the biggest mistake the Dons made was leaving Tapley too many open jumpers, and he buried them.
“You want to limit his attempts, and he had 19,” Walters said. “So we didn’t do a very good job of that. He’s got good teammates around him that give him good shots.”
Tapley’s previous career-high was 28 points last year against Baylor.
Jamaal Franklin, who sat out the previous game as a precaution because of a back injury, hit a pair of free throws late in the game to finish with 11 points for San Diego State, making it 31 straight games in double figures. He also had seven rounds and five assists.
DeShawn Stephens and Xavier Thames contributed 10 points each for San Diego State.
The Aztecs missed six straight shots early on and found themselves down 11-4 before the game was even five minutes old. That didn’t last long. Coming off the first TV timeout, Franklin hit a 3-pointer and Thames finished off a 13-0 run with a three-point play when he was fouled on a driving layup. Franklin scored on a layup off a San Francisco turnover to expand the lead to 23-13.
The Dons, however, managed to stay close behind 3-points from De-End Park and Avery Holmes, and they even got a little chirpy on the bench. They were barking at Tapley as he stepped inside the 3-point line, and Tapley gave it right back when he drained the jumper for a 33-23 lead. The referee warned both benches.
Tapley had 15 points in the first half, and he took over for the Aztecs late in the first half with two jumpers and a 3-pointer during the 10-2 run, and he hit another 3 late in the half for a 38-28 lead. Typical of the Dons, however, they pushed back when Tim Derksen converted a loose ball into a layup, and Cody Doolin hit a 25-footer at the buzzer to keep within five points. Doolin finished with 11 points.
Tapley scored 18 of the Aztecs’ first 30 points in the second half.
“It was a great performance—first game here, first game in Hawaii,” Tapley said. “I’ve just got to thank my teammates for getting me open shots and just grateful and blessed for that kind of performance in the first game.”