Rout aside, NAIA school enjoys playing No. 24 SDSU
SAN DIEGO—The San Diego Christian Hawks ended up getting routed by No. 24 San Diego State, just like UC Riverside, Elon and Redlands.
Still, no harm, no foul for the NAIA school from the suburbs.
Junior guard DeShawn Stephens scored a career-high 18 points and San Diego State ran past San Diego Christian 83-52 on Thursday night.
"We're a small school and they're a big school. It's a good thing to have all the schools in San Diego play one another to fight for the crowd," Hawks guard Keenan Patterson said. "It's always good to come up here. It's a good experience.
"Last year they were pretty big up front. Now they are pretty much guard-oriented," he added. "And they got a lot quicker, a lot more disciplined. They run their stuff pretty well."
Stephens, a junior college transfer, punctuated his night with a rebound dunk in the closing minutes. Garrett Green added 14 points, Chase Tapley and Jamaal Franklin had 11 each, and Alec Williams scored 10 for the Aztecs (13-2) who won their sixth straight game.
Ryan Rubino had 13 points for the Hawks (4-7).
The Aztecs are off to the second-fastest start in school history. Last season's team opened 15-0 en route to the best record in school history, 34-3.
The Aztecs are playing the easiest portion of their schedule. They beat UC Riverside by 25 points, Elon by 26 and routed Redlands by 51 last week. Their final non-conference game is against winless Chicago State on Tuesday.
Hawks coach Tim Cook said his son attends the camp run by San Diego State coach Steve Fisher.
"I consider Coach Fisher a friend and it is absolutely, almost crucial for us to play USD and San Diego State," Cook said. "It's so great for the community and our school gets behind us. I know it's not a big game for them, but it means so much for us with our recruiting and community and letting people know our level is very competitive."
The Aztecs beat San Diego Christian 88-69 in their home opener last season.
San Diego State opens Mountain West Conference play at home on Jan. 14 against No. 17 UNLV, the preseason favorite. The Aztecs and BYU shared the regular-season conference title last season before San Diego State beat the Cougars in the conference tournament championship game.
San Diego State led 44-26 at halftime. The Hawks showed some life in the second half with a 9-3 run that pulled them to 55-39 with 13:37 to play before the Aztecs opened it up again.
With forward Tim Shelton resting his knees for the start of conference play and Xavier Thames missing his third straight game with a knee injury, the Aztecs suited up two additional walk-ons. Jeremy Castleberry, another walk-on, sat out and walk-on Narbeh Ebrahimian was shaken up when fell hard to the court after making a layup in the first half. He later returned.
Thames is expected back for the Chicago State game.