Hemsley, Kell lead SDSU to easy bounce back win vs Hawks

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SAN DIEGO (AP) -- Steve Fisher gave quite the halftime speech to his San Diego State Aztecs on Wednesday night, some 48 hours after they were embarrassed by No. 14 Gonzaga.

Leading San Diego Christian by 14, Fisher told his players that their forced effort reminded him of kickball in third period gym class when he was a teacher and coach at Rich East High in Park Forest, Illinois.

Then, he jokingly asked the two 13-year-old honorary coaches if they had tennis shoes because he was going to need to put one of them in due to a shrinking number of healthy players.

The Aztecs came out looser in the second half and ran off to an 81-58 victory, with Jeremy Hemsley scoring 23 points and Trey Kell adding 19.

They were trying to shake off a 21-point loss at Gonzaga on Monday night.

"One young freshman said, `Coach, this is forced fun.' I said, `It looks like it's forced fun. You're feeling sorry for yourself about the whipping we took on Monday and you can't do that,'" Fisher said, recounting his halftime talk.

"I thought the second half was far from perfect but I liked the pop in our step and we played with a little more, `I'm really glad to be here,' rather than, `Do I have to be here?'"

Zylan Cheatham and Dakarai Allen scored 15 points each for the Aztecs (2-1), who improved to 7-0 against the Hawks.

This was an exhibition for San Diego Christian, an NAIA team from suburban Santee. Isaiah Milan scored 19 for the Hawks and Luis Salgado had 12.

San Diego State jumped to a 14-2 lead against the Hawks. Hemsley scored seven points in the opening run, including a 3-pointer and a dunk on an alley-oop pass from Kell. The Aztecs led by three with six minutes left before going on a 15-4 run to close the half for a 37-23 lead. Kell had a 3-pointer and Hemsley had two buckets.

"It was a good game to get the bad taste out of our mouth but we still remembered what happened," Hemsley said. "That game isn't something we can hang our heads on. It happened and we have to move on from it and get better."

San Diego Christian, an NAIA school from suburban Santee, was playing its first game since its bus was involved in a fiery fatal crash early Sunday on the way home from a game at Cal State Bakersfield. The team was OK but the driver of the car that rear-ended the bus was killed. The car caught fire, which spread to the bus and destroyed the team's road uniforms and personal belongings.

The Hawks wore a set of alternate jerseys.

Coach Edgar Mendez said there was no thought about rescheduling this game.

"I think we needed something back to basketball. That was more important," he said. "This brought us back to the game that we love. And I'm hoping it took some of that thought away from all of our guys. It's been a couple of days where that's all we've been talking about."


San Diego Christian: After Sunday morning's accident in San Bernardino County, the Hawks had to wait for a replacement bus to arrive. They got back to campus at 5:30 a.m.

San Diego State: The Aztecs were once again without 6-foot-10 forward Malik Pope, who has a knee injury, Ben Perez (back), and two other injured players. Matt Shrigley (ankle) could have played in an emergency. Guard Emmanuel Wilson, who made the team last season through open tryouts, made his season debut. Allen shook off a leg injury and returned in the second half. When he went out, the Aztecs had only five healthy scholarship players.


San Diego Christian plays at Chapman on Saturday.

San Diego State plays California in Sacramento on Monday night.