Women's Hoops Outlasts New Mexico, 97-89

McKynzie Fort scored 23 of her career-high 32 points in the second half on Saturday vs. UNM.
Jan. 20, 2018

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SAN DIEGO -- The San Diego State women's basketball team stormed back from an early 10-point deficit to produce its highest point-total of the season in a wild 97-89 victory over New Mexico on Saturday in a Mountain West showdown at Steve Fisher Court.

With the win, the Aztecs snapped a two-game losing streak, improving to 9-9 on the season and 3-4 in conference action, while the Lobos fell for the third time in their four outings, slipping to 16-5 overall and 4-4 in the MW.

Senior McKynzie Fort and freshman Najé Murray combined for 61 of SDSU's 97 points, marking its highest figure since disposing of Sacramento State by a 99-91 count in the 2014-15 season opener.

Fort scored 23 of her career-high 32 points in the second half, draining 9 of 11 field goals during that span, while Murray connected on 7 of 13 attempts from beyond the arc en route to a personal-best 29 points. In addition, senior Cheyenne Greenhouse finished in double figures for the fourth game in a row after totaling 11 points of the bench.

Not to be outdone, fellow classmate Geena Gomez registered a superlative effort of her own with a career-high 11 assists to lead all players.

Collectively, the Aztecs reversed a recent trend of cold second-half shooting with a scintillating 11-for-13 clip in the fourth quarter (84.6 percent), burying all four shots from beyond the arc to spark a 31-20 run over the final 9 minutes and 45 seconds.

Despite a phenomenal effort from Cherise Beynon, who posted a career-high 41 points, UNM was unable to keep pace with the Scarlet and Black, shooting just 40.9 percent from the floor (9-22) during the fourth quarter, including a 2-for-9 clip from three-point range.

For the game, SDSU connected on 37 of 72 field goal attempts (51.4 percent) and 12 of 28 three-pointers (42.9 percent), compared to the Lobos' 33-for-74 (44.4 percent) showing, including a 9-for-27 performance from long range.

Despite getting outscored 38-36 in the paint, the Aztecs maintained a 45-33 rebounding advantage, including a 34-26 spread on the defensive glass. The two sides also battled through seven ties and six lead changes.

SDSU trailed 21-11 after a pair of free throws by UNM's Alex Lapeyrolerie at the 4:37 mark of the first quarter, but Murray tallied five consecutive points on a triple and a jumper to ignite a 17-7 run that knotted the score by the end of the period.

Later in the second stanza, the Aztecs found themselves on the wrong side of a 41-35 score following a Beynon jumper with 3:17 to go before intermission. SDSU flashed its resiliency once again, unleashing a 13-0 blitz over the next 2 minutes and 15 seconds to vault in front 48-41. Fort and Murray combined for 11 points during that stretch, while Greenhouse got things started with a layup.

UNM would not go quietly, however, as Mykiel Burleson converted an and-one opportunity to give the contest its 48-44 score at halftime.

Still, the Aztecs led throughout most of the third period, including a 66-60 spread following a Greenhouse put-back of her own miss with 2:49 left in the quarter. However, SDSU was unable to give itself any additional breathing room thanks to Beynon, who scored six points during a 9-0 Lobo run that put the visitors in front 69-66 by the 9:45 mark of the final frame.

The Aztecs would not wilt this time, as Fort and Murray nailed back-to-back triples to put the host school in front for good. Shortly thereafter, SDSU extended its lead to 83-71 following a Fort jumper with 6:24 remaining.

UNM made things interesting down the stretch, narrowing the gap to 88-84 with 2:21 to go after another Beynon basket. However, the Lobos could draw no closer, as Fort sank three of four foul shots, while Greenhouse hit two free throws of her own to help the Aztecs maintain the upper hand.

In addition to Beynon's production, which included eight assists, UNM received 13 points and eight rebounds from Lapeyrolerie, while Jaisa Nunn finished with 10 points in the loss.

San Diego State heads back on the road next week when it travels to Colorado State on Wednesday, Jan. 24, starting at 7 p.m. MT/6 p.m. PT. The Aztecs will be looking to avenge a narrow 65-63 defeat to the Rams at home earlier this month.

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