SAN DIEGO (AP) — The Brown Bears gathered at senior Travis Fuller’s home in suburban Encinitas on Friday night and did what many visitors to San Diego do, eat tacos and sit in the hot tub.
Less than 24 hours later, the Bears did what few visitors ever do: grab a 30-point lead in the first half and blow out San Diego State on its own floor.
Desmond Cambridge scored 25 points, including making four 3-point shots in a dizzying first-half barrage that helped carry the Ivy League squad to a stunning 82-61 victory against the Aztecs on Saturday night.
It was a successful first visit to California for most of the Bears, and the team dinner at Fuller’s house was a springboard to the upset.
“We were fired up. We were really ready to go,” Cambridge said. “It was a homecoming for one of our seniors here. They told me before the game, have a game, because the last game I played pretty well, and they wanted to build off that. My teammates find me. They always find me. They let me shoot, and I shoot it.”
Cambridge was coming off a 30-point performance in a win at Marist a week earlier.
“This is a major feeling,” he said. “Our gym isn’t as big as this. We come in here, it’s a big stadium, all the lights, for me to play like that feels really good.”
SDSU simply had no answer for Brown during the decisive run. After Tamenang Choh made a layup for a 26-20 Brown lead, the Aztecs missed three jumpers on their next possession. Fuller, who played at La Costa Canyon High, rebounded to set up a 3-pointer by Cambridge.
Brown made 3s on its next four possessions, with Cambridge and Okolie alternating shots from behind the arc. Okolie’s second 3 made it 41-20. The run continued with nine more points by Brown, with Cambridge hitting another 3 and Okolie making a turn-around jumper and a layup.
“Not exactly what we expected,” Brown coach Mike Martin said, adding that the Bears played “as well as we can. I don’t think it’s a fluke how we’re playing. I see it in practice every day and I’m excited about what we can continue to be.”
As the Bears were draining 3s, San Diego State (7-5) went more than eight minutes without scoring. After Aguek Arop made a 3-pointer to pull the Aztecs to 24-20 with 8:32 left before halftime, they didn’t score again until Arop had a slam dunk with 29 seconds left to make it 50-22.
“The start they got, we could never recover from,” coach Brian Dutcher said. “They got out on us early. I think they were on a 26-point run in the first half. Cambridge was sensational.”
Cambridge went down hard after committing his third foul with 14 minutes left and got up favoring his right knee. He came out of the game but later returned.
Choh had 16 points, Okolie 13 and Joshua Howard 11.
Jalen McDaniels scored 19 and Arop 11 for SDSU, which was coming off a 90-81 win against BYU. SDSU’s senior backcourt was a non-factor. Devin Watson scored only four points and Jeremy Hemsley was scoreless on four field goals and two free throws.
Brown outrebounded SDSU 36-32, with 30 defensive boards.
“Brown dictated the game on both sides of the floor,” SDSU’s Matt Mitchell said. “They disrupted us and they got going early from 3 and they kept it going for the majority of the game. We just weren’t able to catch up.”
Brown came out with more energy and enthusiasm, and took a 19-7 lead just six minutes in. Howard had consecutive 3-pointers to spur that run.
San Diego State seemed out of sorts from the start. Not only were the Aztecs missing shots, but they were letting the Bears drain 3s and both McDaniels and Matt Mitchell allowed Bears players to drive for layups.
Brown returns home to face Maine on Wednesday night.
San Diego State is host to Cal State Northridge on Tuesday afternoon.
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