San Diego State made its 1986-87 basketball debut Tuesday night against Athletes in Action and found out a couple of simple truths.
First, the small shall not inherit the paint. With no player on the roster taller than 6-feet 8-inches, the Aztecs were no match for AIA's bigger men underneath and lost, 97-80, in an exhibition in Peterson Gym.
"They hurt us inside," said SDSU Coach Smokey Gaines. That's an understatement considering AIA outrebounded SDSU, 57-25. AIA's 6-10 center Paul Renfro, averaging 6.1 points through his team's first 19 games, had 33 points Tuesday.
The Aztecs also learned that three-point land--19-feet 9-inches from the basket--is a long way away.
But, many times because of its size disadvantage, that was as close as San Diego State could get. The Aztecs tried 23 three-pointers and made eight.
"We'll have to lighten up a bit on that," Gaines said.
The Aztecs had little options other that three-point attempts. SDSU trailed, 46-34, at halftime and by more than 15 points most of the second half.
Freshman guard Tony Ross, from Portland, had 11 shots, all from three-point range. After missing his first six attempts, Ross made four in a row--including one four-point play by converting a free throw--to bring SDSU within 81-73 with 3:43 left. That was as close as things got, however.
"He's certainly not bashful," Gaines said of Ross.
Josh Lowery, the Aztecs' starting guard, was 4 of 7 in three-point attempts and finished with a team-high 23 points.
The Aztecs' problems, however, came when play moved inside the three-point line.
Center Gerald Murray hurt his ankle two weeks ago and hasn't practiced much recently. Gaines said Murray is about 20 pounds overweight, and he moved slowly Tuesday. Renfro hit 11 of 14 shots.
"It's going to take some time, but we need to get Gerald back in shape," Gaines said.
AIA, which is based in San Diego, is 11-9. Guards Lorenzo Romar added 14 points and Brian Kellerma had 11.