San Diego State has played phenomenally this season, jetting off to a 9-1 start. Friday night the Aztecs would draw a first year NAIA school with only 102 enrolled college students. The St. Katherine Firebirds are 2-11 in their inaugural season, and have lost by a combined 123 points in their only two games against Division I opponents. St. Katherine’s best player, Dale Austin, was sidelined from the contest with a knee injury. Austin represents the epitome of this upstart program. Austin was recruited at age 34 while he was working out at a local 24 Hour Fitness.
The Firebirds do not even have a gym, and play their home games 40 minutes away at a high school gym. The only hope that the Firebirds had in competing in this match up of David vs. Goliath was to shoot as many three-points as humanly possible. St. Katherine had a game earlier in the season against Hawaii Pacific where they shot 23-55 from three-point range in a losing effort. The Firebirds would have no such luck against San Diego State.
The final score is a direct representation to the course of the game. San Diego State had one of their best shooting efforts on the season, especially from three-point range, shooting 63.6 percent. Their 61.4 percent field goal percentage was nothing short of magnificent. Before people start discrediting St. Katherine altogether, it is important to commend a first-year school for having the moxie to take on arguably the best team in the Mountain West Conference. San Diego State head coach Steve Fisher also deserves high praise for scheduling this game. While the game itself was not competitive, Fisher assisted a first-year program in building into a competitive squad in the next few years.
As for San Diego State, a 118-35 drubbing of an NAIA school is not going to pad the resume, but it will definitely bolster their confidence heading into their looming matchup with juggernaut Kansas.