Madison Square Garden.
New York City.
Once again, the Big Apple was too big for San Diego State.
You’ve seen this before. An Aztecs team that was on the bubble for the NCAA tournament but didn’t make it, one that reeled off three straight home victories in the NIT to advance to the semifinals at the mecca of basketball, and one that got blown out on a national stage, losing by 14 points.
That was San Diego State in 2009.
And now it’s San Diego State in 2016.
The Aztecs 65-46 loss to George Washington ended what was a dominant run in the NIT. The 19-point deficit was the Aztecs largest since losing by 22 to West Virginia back in November.
It was a sour way to end a frustrating season, especially for a team that was hoping to make a statement after being snubbed by the NCAA tournament selection committee.
That statement will have to wait until next year.
From the start, it appeared the stage was too big for the Aztecs.
They opened 0-6 from the field with two turnovers in their first seven possessions. It took San Diego State over five minutes to score its first basket.
They did rally to tie the game at six a piece, with 13 minutes remaining in the first half. But George Washington was just too much.
The Aztecs best chance at halting the streaking Colonials came with 7:38 left in the first half, after Matt Shrigley hit a 3-pointer to put the Aztecs within three, 19-16.
But, George Washington would go on a 16-4 run to end the half, and led 35-20.
The Colonials never let up.
They hit seven of their first 10 shots to open the second half, and led by as many as 20 points. Their defense was suffocating (11 Aztecs turnovers, nine in the first half), their offense efficient (26-61 FG, 7-19 3-pt), and their hustle was in another realm compared to San Diego State.
George Washington was hungry. San Diego State looked like it just came from Thanksgiving dinner.
The dismal first half was too much to overcome for the Aztecs.
They shot just 24 percent (6-25 FG, 1-9 3-pt) in the first 20 minutes, and their nine turnovers led to 14 George Washington points.
Trey Kell (1-3) and Winston Shepard (1-6) were the only Aztecs starters to make a basket in the first half. Dakarai Allen missed all five of his shots, and Malik Pope attempted, and missed, just one.
Only one player finished with double-digit points and that was Allen (13). He made only three of his 13 field goals, but did go 6-6 from the free-throw line.
In total, the Aztecs shot just 29 percent (17-59) from the field, including an abysmal 3-22 from beyond the arc.
After the 2009 team’s loss in the NIT semifinals, San Diego State went on an unprecedented run of six-straight NCAA tournament appearances.
Now, the Aztecs will hope to begin another run next season, one that starts in the Big Dance, and far from the Big Apple.
–Andrew Burer (TWITTER: @andrewburer)