Four and no more.
The Horned Frogs used two big dunks by senior forward Alvardo Parker and 13 offensive rebounds to surge past San Diego State University 68-62 at Daniel-Meyer Coliseum on Saturday.
Parker delivered a dunk over SDSU junior standout Lorrenzo Wade with 10:04 to play in the second half, and another with one minute to play that all but sealed the victory for TCU (12-10, 4-5) to start the second go-round of conference play.
Head Coach Neil Dougherty said he had not seen that type of explosion in a long time from Parker, whose family was on hand from Turks and Caicos to see him in action for the first time.
“It caught me off guard,” Dougherty said. “Lorrenzo Wade was right there next to him and he went up over him and smashed that ball.”
Dougherty said the game was a celebration for Parker, who has been playing through a knee injury. Parker, who finished with 10 points, seven rebounds and tied a career-high two steals, was limited in practice to stay fresh for the game, which Dougherty said paid off for the senior.
“Either we have to keep them here all month or a combination of no practice and keep them here all month,” said Dougherty, who notched his first career win against SDSU, the Horned Frogs’ first over the Aztecs since they joined the Mountain West in 2005.
San Diego State Head Coach Steve Fisher said his team was dominated physically on the offensive glass.
“They’re big, strong and physical, and they shoved us around,” Fisher said. “They’ve done that to a lot of people, and they did it to us.”
Wade, a candidate for Mountain West Conference player of the year who averages 15.1 points per game, was held to just eight points on 2-13 shooting by the Horned Frog defense. Junior forward Ryan Amoroso led the Aztecs with a game-high 20 points.
“They did a nice job defending him, he got a little frustrated early and we weren’t able to get Lorrenzo in spots where he could make plays,” Fisher said. “This was an atypical Lorrenzo Wade game.”
Junior guard Henry Salter, who matched up on Wade for much of the game, said he tried to limit the forward from penetrating to the left.
“I tried to play him aggressive and keep a body on him the whole time, and contest his shot every time,” said Salter, who finished with a team-high 18 points to go along with seven rebounds.
Parker’s performance came at a much-needed time for the Horned Frogs with junior forward and leading scorer Kevin Langford sitting much of the game in foul trouble. Langford, who added 15 points and five rebounds, fouled out of the game with 2:40 to play.
“We had to make a lot of plays without Kevin Langford down the stretch of this game, who has been kind of our crutch,” Dougherty said. “(Parker’s) activity was as good as it’s been in a very long time so that was a big boost for our team in the game.”
The Aztecs jumped out to an 8-2 early lead to start the game, but the Frog answered with a 6-0 run of their own to even the score through 10 minutes. The game stayed close through the contest, but two TCU runs sandwiched around the first half gave the Horned Frogs an eight point lead with 17:15 remaining in the contest, the team’s largest.
The Horned Frogs maintained a tight lead throughout the second half, keeping the Aztecs at arm’s length by out-rebounding SDSU 38-22.
TCU shot 48 percent from the field in the contest. The team averaged just 37.3 percent from the field during its four-game losing streak.
Parker said he felt the best he had since before conference play started, and having his family present was a special moment.
“(I was) in perfect position, I hadn’t (dunked) in a while, and I had to get something for my family, so that was for them,” Parker said.
And over San Diego State’s best player?
“Even better. Even more exciting,” he said.,
San Diego State will return home to face the University of New Mexico on Wednesday, and TCU will go for two in a row at Wyoming. Tip off is slated for 7:30 p.m.