Saturday, March 22, 2014

NCAAs in Spokane: North Dakota State's magic ends

Posted By on Sat, Mar 22, 2014 at 5:27 PM

click to enlarge NCAAs in Spokane: North Dakota State's magic ends
North Dakota State's fans couldn't bring home the win today in Spokane.
Whatever upset magic was in the Spokane Arena air on Thursday doesn't seem to be in as great of supply today.

North Dakota State, despite bringing in one of the nicest, loudest crowds to Spokane with them, couldn't overtake San Diego State, who held the NDSU to just 44  points in a game in which the Aztecs played some of the best defense that's been seen in this year's NCAA tournament. The final score of 63-44 is a little deceiving. NDSU was in the game for most of it, but their cold shooting saw them fall farther and farther behind as time ticked down.

The Aztecs were led by 30 points from Xavier Thames. If that Senior guard's name sounds familiar to you in the Inland Northwest, that's because he played for Washington State his freshman year before transferring south.

It's the end of a run for North Dakota State, who earned no shortage of fans in Spokane this weekend after their hard-fought win on Thursday over Oklahoma.

NCAAs in Spokane: North Dakota State's magic ends
Poor kid...
If you were at the game, you probably couldn't help but notice the bare-chested, headressed young man waving around a conch shell during every stoppage of play. This is San Diego State's mascot. Assumedly, this guy is supposed to be an Aztec. But walking around half naked in a part of the country that's yet to emerge from winter, the Aztec threw around a whole lot of weird at the Arena this weekend.

From his habit of yelling odd taunts at the North Dakota fans to blowing his conch while his own team's pep band was playing, this guy was far and away the most amusing mascot of the games in Spokane. This is why mascots where masks, FYI. That's him on the right.

NDSU, on the other hand, had a burly ol' Bison. He didn't do anything terribly interesting today, but that was only because it's likely that he was afraid SDSU's beefcakey warrior was fixing to slaughter him. For the record, the kid who portrays the SDSU Aztec is probably a perfectly nice kid who just happens to have a crappy job. Still, I really hope SDSU continues through the tournament so more people can get a look at this college basketball oddity.

Harvard and Michigan State just took the floor for the nightcap here at the Arena. So far, the crowd appears to have a lot of Spartan green in it. Michigan State — picked by many to win the whole tournament, despite being a 4-seed — will have their hands full with Harvard's guards. Don't expect this one to become a blowout — unless MSU's Adriean Payne drops 41 points like he did on Thursday.

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Mike Bookey

Mike Bookey was the culture editor for The Inlander from 2012-2016. He previously held the same position at The Source Weekly in Bend, Ore.