Matt Bradley scored 17 points and fifth-seeded San Diego State held off 12th-seeded Charleston 63-57 in a South Region first-round game on Thursday afternoon in Orlando, Fla.
Keshad Johnson, Jaedon LeDee and Aguek Arop scored eight points apiece for San Diego State (28-6), which will face 13th-seeded Furman in the second round on Saturday. Furman upset fourth-seeded Virginia earlier Thursday,
“I’m happy for the kids, they deserved it, they played hard,” said San Diego State coach Brian Dutcher, who got first NCAA Tournament win in his fifth try. “Charleston has a great team. We’re just blessed to move on.”
Ante Brzovic had 12 points and eight rebounds, Ryan Larson had 11 points and Dalton Bolon finished with 10 points for Charleston (31-4).
The Cougars pulled even at 53-53 with 3:27 left but could never move ahead. Bradley was fouled on a 3-pointer and made two free throws to make it 60-55 with 25 seconds left and Micah Parrish made two more with one second to go to clinch the win.
The Aztecs trailed for much of the first half before taking a 32-29 lead into the break.
Reyne Smith converted an early four-point play to give Charleston a 6-2 lead. The Cougars missed their next six 3s, but the Aztecs were unable to capitalize as they committed their seventh turnover with 12:56 still left in the half.
Bolon ended Charleston’s 3-point drought to move the Cougars ahead 13-6 with 11:41 left in the half.
Nathan Mensah missed two free throws for the Aztecs that would have tied the score with 9:08 remaining, and Larson’s 3 extended the lead back to 18-13 with 8:14 left in the half.
Charleston was able to extend the lead back to seven on three occasions, but San Diego State strung together an 11-0 run to move ahead 28-24 with 2:53 to go. The Cougars moved in front once more, but the Aztecs scored the final four points of the half for their three-point lead.
San Diego State held Charleston to 37 percent from the floor in the first half, but committed 11 turnovers of its 14 turnovers.
The Cougars tied the score at 34-34, but San Diego State unleashed a 7-0 run to take its biggest lead with 15:21 left.
Back-to-back baskets by Lamont Butler and Arop made it 45-36 with 12:36 left.
–Field Level Media