As San Diego State junior point guard Richie Williams dribbled away the final seconds of the Aztecs’ 69-64 win Monday night over the University of San Diego, he raised his hand with his index finger extended.

SDSU junior forward Lorrenzo Wade, whose 14 points led four Aztecs in double figures, talked after the game about the value of winning a close game “in a hostile environment.”

And remember, Wade is a guy who started his career at Louisville before transferring to SDSU. He knows what a hostile environment sounds like.

In the past, Williams might have been asked “No. 1 of what?” And hostile wasn’t a word associated with SDSU-USD crowds, but that was the scene as the full house of 5,100 fans at USD’s Jenny Craig Pavilion was something different.

Hey, I felt like I was in a Big Ten arena.

“I thought the atmosphere in here was great,” USD coach Bill Grier said. “That’s the way it should be. This is college basketball and it should be exciting in here. The intensity and emotion was like a March (NCAA tournament) game.”

Again, remember, Grier was an assistant for 16 years at national power Gonzaga, so he knows what March intensity feels like.

San Diego State coach Steve Fisher — another March veteran — said “it was a typical San Diego State-USD” game, but I beg to differ.

Fisher referred to the intensity of the game, and that’s true. But I don’t know when I’ve seen so many “basketball players” on the court in an SDSU-USD game.

Many past SDSU-USD games have been marked by athletes that weren’t good basketball players and good basketball players that weren’t athletes.

But this game was different.

USD’s Gyno Pomare scored 20 points and pulled down 10 rebounds for the 6-8 junior forward/center’s third double-double in four games.

USD junior point guard Brandon Johnson, showing improved shooting range, had 16 points at halftime and 20 for the game.

Wade put down a big-time dunk and helped slow down Johnson in the second half. Kyle Spain (11 points) showed good shooting touch and Williams and Gay can push the ball and apply defensive pressure.

Pomare (El Camino High) and Williams (Steele Canyon High) were the two local talent contributions to a city without a rich history for turning out basketball talent.

“I thought both teams played with great energy,” Fisher said. “If you were a neutral fan, you had to sit back and smile and enjoy what you saw. It’s always easier when you win, but I think both teams will benefit as a result of the game tonight.”


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