HONOLULU -- For the second time this season, the Indiana State Sycamores came tantalizingly close to downing a nationally-ranked team from the Mountain West Conference, but a late game run by No. 15/18 San Diego State was the difference in a 62-55 Aztec victory in the semifinals of the Hawaiian Airlines Diamond Head Classic inside the Stan Sheriff Center.
ISU fell to 6-4 on the season while San Diego State improved to 11-1 and won their 11th consecutive game.
The Sycamores fell to 0-3 on the season against nationally-ranked teams after also losing to New Mexico on December 1 in the MVC/Mountain West Conference Challenge.
Indiana State placed three scorers in double figures, led by RJ Mahurin with 15. It marked the first time this season (in five games) that the Sycamores lost despite at least a 12-point scoring effort by Mahurin. Manny Arop once again reached double figures scoring with 13 to go along with five rebounds while Jake Odum had 10 points and four assists.
San Diego State became just the second team (out of 33) to defeat Indiana State under third-year head coach Greg Lansing when being held to less than 63 points. The Sycamores are now 31-2 under Lansing when holding teams under that benchmark. Indiana State held the Aztecs to less than 42 percent shooting from the field (20-of-48), but turned the ball over 17 times which resulted in 18 points for SDSU.
Indiana State trailed by just three points to the Aztecs (28-25) at the half, and RJ Mahurin hit a pair of free throws on the Sycamores' first possessiont to cut their advantage down to just one point. SDSU was able to take a 31-27 lead, but the Sycamores went on a 5-0 run with a Gant jumper and then a Mahurin triple at the 16:57 mark to push ISU ahead 32-31.
SDSU would score the game's next four points for a up 35-32 lead, but Odum hit a tough jumper in the paint with with 14:30 remaining to make it 35-34 and then an Odum steal and Arop basket as the clocked ticked under 14 minute to go gave the Sycamores a 36-35 lead. With 13 minutes remaining, Jake Odum was fouled on a 3-point attempt and hit 2-of-3 from the charity stripe to stretch the lead out to 38-35.
The Sycamores next scored on a Justin Gant driving lay-up with 8:14 remaining to knot the score at 40. After SDSU went out to a 42-40 lead, the Arop scored on a nice jump shot with 6:50 remaining to even the game at 42. On the next trip down, Arop found a wide-open Gant for a dunk as the clocked ticked towards six minutes left to even the score at 44.
SDSU scored seven points in a row to take a 51-44 lead up until a pair of Manny Arop free throws with 4:04 remaining to cut the advantage down to 51-46. Khristian Smith and Arop sandwhiched field goals around a basket by SDSU to trail just 53-50 with 2:20 left.
Trailing 57-50, Mahurin converted a conventional 3-point play at the 35 second mark to cut the SDSU lead down to 57-53. After Xavier Thames hit a pair of free throws with 31 seconds left, Odum scored with 24.3 on the clock to cut the lead down to 59-55. SDSU would go on to hit three more free throws in the final 20 seconds of the contest for the 62-55 victory.
Jamaal Franklin scored the first three points of the game for the Aztecs over the first minute of the game, but the Sycamores were able to take a 7-3 lead in the contest with a pair of Mahurin baskets as well as 3-pointer from Justin Gant with 17:20 on the clock.
San Diego State went on an 8-0 run to counter the Sycamores spurt for an 11-7 advantage before Jake Odum broke through at the 14:29 mark to make it 11-9. Manny Arop converted a dunk off the baseline drive on the Sycamores' next possession to answer a SDSU field goal as ISU trailed 13-11.
Khristian Smith scored with just under 12 minutes remaining in the first half to trim the SDSU lead down to 15-13. ISU was then held scoreless for nearly five minutes until Jake Odum hit a pair of free throws with 7:55 on the clock, but the Sycamores trailed just 20-15 as the ISU defense continued to hold strong.
Indiana State made it a 5-0 run as Manny Arop hit an open 3-pointer with 6:34 on the clock to cut the SDSU advantage down to just 20-18. After SDSU drained a triple to take a six point lead, RJ Mahurin drained a key 3-pointer with 4:55 on the clock to cut the deficit down to 24-21.
With the Sycamores trailing by five points, Dawon Cummings hit a driving lay-up with 40 seconds remaining to cut the SDSU advantage down to 28-25. The Sycamore defense continued to hold strong as they forced a long miss on a last second attempt.
RJ Mahurin led the way for the Sycamores in the first half with seven points.
Jamaal Franklin paced San Diego State with 19 points and 15 rebounds.
Indiana State will compete in the Consolation Final against either No. 4 Arizona or Miami on Tuesday, December 25 at 7:30 p.m. (ET). The game will be televised live on ESPN2 as well as on WatchESPN.com.