HONOLULU — San Francisco coach Rex Walters felt his team did all the little things right that kept them in the game Saturday against No. 18 San Diego State. They scrapped for loose balls and got their share of offensive rebounds.
Both times the Dons had a chance to tie the game in the second half, they took careless shots. And they never caught up.
Chase Tapley scored a career-high 33 points and the Aztecs won their 10th straight game, 80-58, in the first round of the Diamond Head Classic.
"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," Walters said. "You just can't make mistakes. You've got to understand quality of shot, take care of the ball. And over the course of the game, their quality of shot was better than ours."
The quality for San Diego State was getting the ball to Tapley, who was 13-of-19 from the field, nine of those shots coming from outside.
What bothered Walters in this case was quantity.
"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 made six 3-points and led a pair of big bursts as the Aztecs (10-1) finally put away the Dons (5-5).
San Francisco moves to the loser's bracket and faces Ole Miss, which lost in overtime to Indiana State.
Tapley scored the last of his 33 points on a fast break in which he pulled up on the right wing and fired away, turning to smile as the ball was still in the air. His previous career-best was 28 points against Baylor a year ago.
"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 Dons 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.
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."