Matt Bradley scored 17 points, including two free throws in the final minute, and No. 5 seed San Diego State held on to beat 12th-seeded College of Charleston 63-57 in the first round of the NCAA Tournament on Thursday.
The Aztecs (28-6) won their first game in the Big Dance since 2015 — ending a four-game losing streak — and snapped an 11-game skid for the Mountain West Conference.
The Cougars (31-4) lost for the first time in six weeks and have not won an NCAA tournament game since 1997.
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San Diego State advanced to face 13th-seeded Furman in the South Region at the Amway Center on Saturday. The Paladins used a late steal and 3-pointer to stun No. 4 seed Virginia four years to the day since the Cavaliers became the first and only No. 1 seed to lose in the opening round.
Charleston looked to provide another upset in Orlando, but coach Pat Kelsey’s scrappy team simply couldn’t do enough down the stretch.
San Diego State did.
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Bradley scored on a driving layup coming out of a timeout with 2:37 to play, breaking a tie and ending a nearly 3-minute scoring drought for the Aztecs. Micah Parrish followed with a huge 3-pointer, giving them a little breathing room in the waning minutes.
Charleston looked like it might be able to rally, but Jaylon Scott was called for a foul as Bradley shot a 3. He hit two of three from the charity stripe to essentially seal it.
Ante Brzovic led Charleston with 12 points and eight rebounds. Ryan Larson added 11 points, and seventh-year senior Dalton Bolon finished his college career with 10 points.
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Bradley, one of four senior starters for San Diego State, chipped in seven rebounds and four assists.