SAN DIEGO – The Chicago State Cougars believed they were going to shock San Diego State on Tuesday night.
Still, the Cougars think their long losing streak is about to end.
Chase Tapley scored 13 of his 24 points during a 24-3 run in the second half and No. 22 San Diego State overcame a scare to run past winless Chicago State 73-65 on Tuesday night.
Jamaal Franklin had seven of his 16 points during the big run for the Aztecs (14-2), who won their seventh straight game to continue the second-fastest start in school history. Franklin also had 10 rebounds.
"We played loose and played with confidence," said coach Tracy Dildy, who played at San Diego State from 1985-87. "We talked at halftime that they would make a run and we had to answer. Our guys just kept playing hard."
Chicago State (0-16), which played to a 32-32 halftime tie, stunned the Aztecs with a 7-0 run to open the second half. Jeremy Robinson hit an inside bucket and a turnaround jumper, and a slam dunk by D'Jari Nelson had the Cougars celebrating and forced SDSU coach Steve Fisher to call timeout.
That woke up the Aztecs, who came racing back with a 10-1 run that gave them a 42-40 lead. Tapley started the run with a layup and two more baskets, and Tim Shelton and Franklin each made a layup as the Aztecs dominated inside.
Nelson scored off a rebound to tie it at 42, Chicago State's last bucket for nearly five minutes.
While the Cougars went cold, the Aztecs kept running. Tapley scored seven more points, including on a feed from Shelton off a missed 3-pointer by James Rahon, a three-point play and another layup that gave the Aztecs a 56-42 lead with 9:34 to go.
"We have just talked about believing that this is a light at the end of the tunnel," Dildy said. "We have played a Top 25 schedule. Our whole big picture is to win the conference. These games will get us ready to win our conference. We are not going to see many teams that look like San Diego State, like Creighton, like Illinois, or a lot of the teams we've played."
The Aztecs were tested for the first time in five games. They had cruised in their previous four games, beating UC Riverside by 25 points, Elon by 26, Redlands by 51 and San Diego Christian by 31.
San Diego State, which shared the Mountain West Conference title with BYU last season, opens league play Saturday at home against preseason favorite and No. 12 UNLV.
Matt Samuels scored 17 for the Cougars. Robinson had 14 and Nelson 11.
After the Cougars held early leads, San Diego State seemed to take control with a barrage of 3-pointers by Rahon and Tapley. Chicago State slowly reeled it in behind 12 points in the half by Samuels, including a 3-pointer that pulled it within four and a baseline jumper at the buzzer.