SAN DIEGO (AP) — First-year Little Rock coach Chris Beard was reading San Diego State’s game notes on Saturday morning and he finally had to put them down.
“I was getting scared looking at them, all the records and streaks they had,” Beard said.
In short, few teams come into Viejas Arena and beat the Aztecs.
The Trojans of the Sun Belt Conference bucked the trend, stunning the Aztecs 49-43. Josh Hagins made four straight shots in the final 2:45, including a long 3-pointer that he banked in, and finished with 14 points.
Beard said it’s a big win for the Trojans in large part because of the kind of program Steve Fisher has built in San Diego.
SDSU had been 32-1 in its last 33 home games and 95-7 in its last 102 games at Viejas. It had won 27 straight non-conference home games against teams that were not ranked in The Associated Press Top 25
“I mean, San Diego State basketball is kind of one of the unknown secrets in college basketball,” Beard said. “This is a dominant program; six straight NCAA tournaments, a Hall of Fame coach, players getting drafted. This is the kind of program we’d like to build in Little Rock. We have a lot of respect for the team that we fortunately beat tonight.”
The Trojans (3-0) twice took 11-point leads in the first half and were more energetic than the Aztecs (2-2), who committed 16 turnovers and shot only 28.3 percent (13-for-46).
SDSU was left shaking its head.
“We came out with no energy,” Dakarai Allen said. “We can’t win like that.”
Seniors Winston Shepard, Skylar Spencer and Angelo Chol were held scoreless.
Said Fisher: “16 turnovers in a low-possession game is a killer, and that was a huge, huge piece to the game. ... We had multiple plays that were either turnovers, hard shots or missed open shots.”
The Aztecs seemed to have gotten the upper hand after Ben Perez hit his third 3-pointer of the second half for a 41-38 lead with 4:11 to go.
That’s when Hagins started his run, making a baseline shot and then a long 3-pointer for a two-point lead with 2:06 to go. After SDSU’s Jeremy Hemsley made a layup to tie it, Hagins made a 10-foot jumper and then a shot from just inside the arc for a 47-43 lead.
“I needed to come through for my team,” Hagins said. “Toward the end, we just found a way. They got me the ball, cleared the lane and I had to make some plays.”
When it was apparent the Trojans were going to win, they raised their arms and huddled near midcourt before Marcus Johnson Jr. made two free throws with six seconds left to seal it.
“We’re a mid-major team. When we come to an environment like this it’s exciting for us,” Hagin said. “It’s easy for us to have energy in that kind of situation. A lot of us don’t play in too many games like that. It’s not about the fans or anything like that. It’s just playing in a tough game. Everybody wants to prove their point. That’s what we did tonight.”
Hemsley and Allen scored 11 points apiece for SDSU.
After leading 26-19 at halftime, Little Rock went cold from the field in the second half, making only one field goal in the first 10 minutes, a 3-pointer by Hagins.
At one point in the second half, the Aztecs had made more free throws, nine, than field goals, seven.
The Trojans outhustled and outshot the Aztecs in twice taking leads of 11 points in the first half. The first was 19-8 after Maurius Hill made a 3-pointer and Lis Shoshi a jumper. The other was 24-13 after Hagins made a jumper in the key.
San Diego State was in the midst of going almost eight minutes without a field goal.
Little Rock: Beard was an assistant at Texas Tech when the Red Raiders beat SDSU four straight times between 2001-04.
San Diego State was playing a Sun Belt Conference team for the first time since hosting Troy on Nov. 30, 2003.
Little Rock plays East Carolina in Las Vegas on Thursday.
San Diego State hosts East Carolina on Monday night in a non-bracketed game of the Continental Tire Las Vegas Invitational. SDSU then plays No. 15 California in Las Vegas on Thanksgiving night.