#AztecWBB Outlasts Wyoming, 57-54

Erimma Amarikwa notched her sixth career double-double on Wednesday vs. Wyoming.
Jan. 14, 2015

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SAN DIEGO - Bolstered by junior Erimma Amarikwa's (Vacaville, Calif.) sixth career double-double, the San Diego State women's basketball team snapped a two-game losing streak on Wednesday with an uplifting 57-54 victory over Wyoming in Mountain West clash at Viejas Arena.

After grabbing the upper hand with a pair of timely second-half runs, the Aztecs (5-10, 2-2 MW) had to withstand some tense moments in the closing minute to preserve the win.

As a team, SDSU controlled the boards, maintaining a 38-27 rebounding advantage, including a 13-9 spread on the offensive glass while outscoring the Cowgirls 21-10 in second-chance points. In addition, the Aztecs shot 47 percent from the field (25-53), including a 55 percent clip (15-27) in the second half to help knock off Wyoming (7-8, 2-3 MW) for the sixth time in seven tries.

Individually, Amarikwa finished with 14 points and a game-leading 12 rebounds for SDSU, while senior Khristina Hunter (Fairfield, Calif.) and freshman McKynzie Fort (Fontana, Calif.) tallied 10 points apiece. The Aztec cause was also advanced by sophomore Chloe Johnson (Phoenix, Ariz.), who contributed seven points and tied for game-high honors with five assists, while senior Chairese Culberson (Oakland, Calif.) added seven rebounds, including six on the defensive end.

The first half was a low-scoring affair, with the lead changing hands 10 times, while the two sides shot just 34 percent from the floor on a combined 17-of-50 attempts. Trailing 16-11, Wyoming rattled off eight straight points, capped by Kaylie Rader's layup at the 2:27 mark of the period. Shortly thereafter, SDSU responded with back-to-back baskets by junior Deidra Smith (Aurora, Colo.) to reclaim a 20-18 advantage with 57 seconds remaining, but the Cowgirls quickly countered with a three-pointer by Kayla Woodward, who led all scorers with 20 points. The Aztecs had one last possession and with the clock about to expire, walk-on freshman Alli Brown (Anaheim Hills, Calif.) connected on a clutch trey from the right wing, giving the Scarlet and Black a 23-21 advantage at intermission.

After the break, SDSU forged a 29-23 lead through the first three minutes of the second half, but Wyoming soon followed with a 12-2 spurt, punctuated by a Jordan Kelley free throw with 12:27 left to play. Moments later, it was the Aztecs' turn to fashion a run and the host school did just that, vaulting ahead to stay 37-35 with 9:33 remaining, following a jumper by Fort to highlight an 8-0 surge, The Cowgirls stayed within striking distance over the next five minutes, twice trimming the deficit to one, including a 43-42 spread on a Marquelle Dent layup with 5:27 to go. However, the Aztecs answered with 9-0 blitz, capped by another crucial basket by Fort with 2:38 remaining.

Still, Wyoming wasn't completely in SDSU's rear view mirror, even after Hunter nailed a huge layup off a missed Aztec free throw, which gave the hosts a seemingly safe 57-49 cushion with just 43 seconds to go. Dent almost single-handedly kept the Cowgirls in contention, scoring five straight points on a jumper and a three-pointer from the left baseline to narrow the gap to 57-54 with 20 seconds to go. The Aztecs had a chance to essentially ice the game moments later, but a missed free throw on the front end of a 1-and-1 opportunity left the door open for the visitors.

With both sides out of timeouts, Fort came up with a steal and got the ball to Johnson, who was promptly fouled. But SDSU was called for a lane violation, which wiped out Johnson's subsequent free throw, giving Wyoming yet another chance to force overtime. However, the Cowgirls were unable to get a shot off in the final seven seconds before the horn sounded, allowing the Aztecs to escape.

In addition to Woodward's effort, Dent finished with 17 points, five assists and five steals, while Kelley grabbed eight rebounds in the loss.

San Diego State returns to action on Saturday when it travels to the Silver State to battle UNLV, starting at 2 p.m. PT.

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