The clock struck midnight for the West Region’s Cinderella on Saturday night, as the No. 4 seed San Diego State Aztecs advanced to the Sweet 16, defeating the No. 12 seed North Dakota State Bison 63-44 in Spokane.
With the win, the Aztecs advance to face either No. 1 seed Arizona or No. 8 seed Gonzaga on Thursday.
San Diego State (31-4) closed the game on a 12-1 run, blowing open a game that was close and competitive throughout. Their stifling defense didn’t give the Bison any opportunities to get going offensively, and they held them to just 31-percent shooting for the game.
Xavier Thames, the Aztecs senior guard, picked a great time to have one of his best games of the season. The 23-year-old had a season-high 30 points and six assists on 9-of-19 shooting, including four from behind the arc.
North Dakota State (26-7) was in the game until the final minutes. It led in a back-and-forth first half, but fell behind for good when the Aztecs closed the first 20 minutes on a 15-3 run.
Unlike Thursday against Oklahoma, they couldn’t find any late game magic on Saturday. The Bison couldn’t overcome a second consecutive sub-par performance from Taylor Braun.
Braun, who led North Dakota State in scoring this season, had only seven points on a dismal 2-of-14 shooting.