Shepard leads No. 19 SDSU over Ball St, 70-57
SAN DIEGO (AP) For the most part, Steve Fisher liked how his No. 19 San Diego State Aztecs bounced back from a nine-point road overtime loss to Cincinnati.
Winston Shepard scored 15 points and JJ O'Brien had 13 to lead San Diego State to a 70-57 victory over Ball State on Saturday night.
The Aztecs (8-3) were playing for the first time since losing 71-62 in overtime at Cincinnati on Wednesday night in which they had 11 turnovers in the first half.
''I'm happy with a lot of things we did offensively,'' Fisher said. ''We're making progress with our offense. We've got to say now, `How can we cut five turnovers off what we're doing,' and it would be legitimate progress.
''I'm seeing things we're doing more under control, more with poise and it will allow us to hopefully score a few more points, get the right guys shooting at the right times and get angles for rebounds.''
The Aztecs had 11 turnovers in the first half again Saturday night, but the difference was their press, which forced Ball State into 16 turnovers in the first half and 22 for the game. The Aztecs had 15 turnovers overall.
Shepard came on strong down the stretch, making consecutive baskets on a spin move in the lane and then a jumper in the lane to give the Aztecs a 59-43 lead with just more than 8 minutes left. He then made two free throws to make it 64-47.
''We took a step in the right direction,'' Shepard said. ''A lot of turnovers follow me. I think I'm leading the team in turnovers. I thought I did a better job tonight. We took a step in the right direction but there's still a lot of season to go and lot of room to grow.''
Guard Aqeel Quinn, who had returned Wednesday night from a broken finger, suffered a hip pointer when he hit the floor while driving on Matt Kamieniecki and drawing a foul. Quinn was down for a few minutes before limping to the locker room. He didn't return. Skylar Spencer, who finished with 10 points, took the free throws for Quinn, making both.
Jeremie Tyler scored 17 points and Kamieniecki had 15 points and 10 rebounds for Ball State (3-6), which lost its third straight. Franko House had 11.
''It was a good game but I thought we were nervous at the start of the game,'' Cardinals coach James Whitford said. ''We have a young team and they don't play in front of this kind of crowd and this kind of pressure very often. We got ourselves in a hole.''
The Aztecs had double-digit leads for most of the game's final 26 minutes.
Trailing 10-8 just less than 5 minutes into the game, the Aztecs used a 21-8 surge during the next nine minutes to take control. Winston Shepard had six points, including a steal and a slam dunk. O'Brien made consecutive baskets, for a 29-18 lead with 6:17 left before halftime.
Ball State scored the next six points, all on free throws, before SDSU once again took an 11-point lead, on two free throws by Spencer and a 3-pointer by Matt Shrigley.
SDSU led 36-26 at halftime.
The Aztecs' big man, who had a hard fall Wednesday night, played only 3 minutes Saturday night, scoring two points and grabbing one rebound. ''Angelo said that he felt like he wanted to try it but after the first segment he said it hurts to plant and go,'' Fisher said. ''It would have been foolish to play him anymore.''
''We wanted to make more of a focus to get the ball inside,'' O'Brien said. ''Our offense is, take what the defense gives you, so we don't try to force anything, but we had an emphasis on getting it inside and making plays from there.''
Ball St.: The Cardinals are without guards Jeremiah Davis and Tye Wilburn, who are recovering from foot injuries.
San Diego St: The Aztecs are 2-3 against Ball State. This was the first meeting between the schools since the 1999-2000 season, which was Steve Fisher's first at SDSU.
Ball St: Cardinals host Longwood on Dec. 28
San Diego St.: Aztecs host UC Riverside on Monday night.