Tapley, Aztecs stop No. 24 Cal


SAN DIEGO -- Four days after blowing a 17-point first-half lead and losing by two points at home to Creighton, Chase Tapley and San Diego State came up big in outlasting No. 24 California.

Tapley scored 25 points, including two free throws with 8.6 seconds left, to lead the Aztecs to a 64-63 victory Sunday, their second win over the Golden Bears in as many seasons.

"It's a crazy game that we play," San Diego State coach Steve Fisher said. "I remember the feeling I had after Creighton, and we played every bit as hard as we did today. But today we found a way to make one extra play, one more play, and be euphoric as we raced to the locker room. This was a really great win for us. To a man, everybody who played made plays that won for us."

San Diego State (8-2) beat California 77-57 last season in Berkeley, Calif. This was San Diego State's second win against a ranked Pac-12 team this season and its third overall against the more glamorous conference. The Aztecs beat then-No. 23 Arizona 61-57 on the road Nov. 23. They also beat Southern California 56-54 at home on Nov. 17.

"This was terrific. But we expected to win. We thought we would win. We thought we were the better team, and I think that's significant, also," said Fisher.

Tapley said the loss to Creighton in the Mountain West-Missouri Valley Challenge "gave us the mental toughness that we have to have at the end of the game. We can't play 34 minutes, 20 minutes. We've got to play the whole 40 minutes."

Tapley had a rebound with 20 seconds left and fed Jamaal Franklin, who was fouled and made both shots for a 62-58 lead. Cal's Justin Cobbs made a layup with 9.2 seconds left before Tapley was fouled and hit both free throws to give the Aztecs a four-point lead. Allen Crabbe of the Bears (6-2) made a 3-pointer with 2.1 seconds left for the final margin.

"We just needed a rebound at the end," Cal coach Mike Montgomery said. "We needed a stop, really, and couldn't rebound the ball. Critical."

The Aztecs made 9 of 10 free throws over the final 2:21. Tapley, a junior guard, had 10 of SDSU's final 21 points.

Crabbe scored 23 points and Cobbs had 17 for the Golden Bears, who were without forward Richard Solomon after the sophomore was suspended indefinitely on Friday because of conduct contrary to athletic department values. Solomon is averaging 6.0 points and a team-leading 7.3 rebounds.

Cal led only once in the second half, 51-50, after Crabbe's layup with 6:31 left.

On Cal's next possession, Tapley intercepted Cobbs' alley-oop pass on a 3-on-1 break, then went down the court and made a layup for a 52-51 lead with 5:50 to go.

"Was that ever sensational?" Fisher said. "Chase has done a phenomenal job of anticipation, alertness, experience, setting people up. It's almost like he baited that play to be made. He got down low, knowing that he was going to tease him to try to throw the lob. Made a phenomenal play."

Tapley said the Aztecs needed something to happen then.

"My first instinct was try to get a foul without getting an intentional foul," Tapley said. "I said, 'Hey, you know what, why don't you just get a steal?' So I backed up, saw he was about to throw it, looked into his eyes, and as soon as it left his hands, I jumped and tipped the ball and I went down and tried to score."

■ No. 7 Baylor 69, Northwestern 41 -- At Evanston, Ill., Quincy Acy and Pierre Jackson both scored 16 points and the Bears remained unbeaten with a victory over the Wildcats.

Four players scored in double figures for the Bears (7-0), who cruised after an early-game run. Jackson scored 14 points in the first half, while Perry Jones III added 12 and Brady Haslip 11.

Acy had six blocks to lead a dominant performance in the paint on both ends of the court. Baylor outscored Northwestern 46-12 in the lane and hit 25 of 30 shots from inside the 3-point line.

Drew Crawford had 15 points to lead Northwestern (7-1).

 

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