Colorado State 52

(16-15, 4-12 MW)

San Diego State 64

(22-8, 13-3 MW)

    2:00 PM ET, March 9, 2006

    Pepsi Center, Denver, Colorado

    1 2 T
    CSU 27 2552
    SDSU 36 2864

    Top Performers

    Colorado St: M. Harrison 24 Pts, 8 Reb, 1 Ast, 1 Stl, 6 Blk

    San Diego St: M. Slaughter 17 Pts, 19 Reb, 1 Ast, 2 Stl

    Slaughter's double-double lifts SDSU

    DENVER (AP) -- It will take three wins this week for San Diego State to really feel good about its immediate future and the regular season that just ended.

    The first of those three was routine, a 64-52 victory over Colorado State in the quarterfinals of the Mountain West Conference tournament Thursday that did nothing to hurt San Diego State's NCAA resume.

    Marcus Slaughter had 17 points and 19 rebounds and Brandon Heath had 16 points to lead the top-seeded Aztecs (22-8), who advanced to Friday's semifinals to play UNLV, a 65-64 winner over New Mexico in a later quarterfinal.

    "Yeah, I feel good, because we're still playing," Aztecs coach Steve Fisher said. "Our goal is to win the next game. If we don't want to worry about someone else, we've got to get the automatic entry and that's what comes with winning."

    Fisher's team is in the midst of a milestone season, winning its first conference title since 1978 and amassing a program-record, eight-game winning streak in the middle of the conference schedule.

    Still, the Aztecs remain at only No. 62 in the latest RPI -- a bubble team in the eighth-rated conference that certainly can't feel like it has its first NCAA berth in four years wrapped up.

    Fisher wants the tournament title to guarantee things. Beating the eighth-seeded Rams (16-15), playing without two key players, was the first step -- and not too taxing a challenge.

    Junior-college transfer Michael Harrison had a nice game for CSU, finishing with 24 points and eight rebounds. But the team's best player, 7-foot Jason Smith, struggled in double coverage all day. He finished with 13 points, six rebounds and eight turnovers and played most of the second half in foul trouble.

    "I didn't handle it very well," Smith said of the constant double teams. "I've got to get better on that in the offseason."

    CSU was missing injured center Stuart Creason and guard Micheal Morris, a pair of key cogs to a team that began the season 11-2, but endured a seven-game losing streak in conference play to streak toward the bottom of the standings.

    Rams coach Dale Layer fell to 86-93 in six years, and with two seasons left on his contract, this less-than-stellar season has left many wondering if he'll be back to serve them out. The athletic director, Mark Driscoll, is leaving his job March 31 and won't likely make the decision.

    "We made some nice steps," Layer said. "But we're not where we want to be yet."

    Trailing by about 10 for most of the game, the Rams pulled within 50-44 midway through the second half, but the Aztecs humbled CSU over the next three minutes by grabbing nine offensive rebounds during a 9-0 run that put this game away.

    "You can't give a talented team that many possessions without bad things happening," Layer said.

    Nursing the six-point lead, San Diego State missed four straight shots after a timeout, but rebounded the misses each time. Finally, Slaughter got fouled, hit the first free throw and missed the second, but that was tipped in by Kyle Spain to make it 53-44.

    After a CSU turnover, the Aztecs came down and grabbed another four offensive rebounds. The result was two more Slaughter free throws -- both of them made -- and the competitive part of the game was essentially over.

    "Rebounding is about heart," Slaughter said. "If you want the ball you go get it. I'm not a 7-footer like Jason Smith or the rest of them. I'm just a guy that wants to get the rebound, so I just play hard. Because I have a passion for getting it, so I do whatever I can to get the rebound."

    Mohamed Abukar had 13 points for the Aztecs, who won their fourth straight and sixth of their last seven. The Aztecs won despite shooting 34 percent from the floor.

    Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press


    Team Stat Comparison

    Points 52 64
    FG Made-Attempted 20-45 (.444) 23-68 (.338)
    3P Made-Attempted 4-11 (.364) 5-17 (.294)
    FT Made-Attempted 8-13 (.615) 13-19 (.684)
    Fouls (Tech/Flagrant) 15 (0/0) 16 (0/0)
    Largest Lead 0 16

    2005-06 Season

    Jan 4, 2006 @SDSU 83, CSU 75Recap
    Feb 4, 2006 SDSU 85, @CSU 81Recap
    » Mar 9, 2006 @SDSU 64, CSU 52Recap