Griffin's Free Throws Help SDSU Edge Utah, 50-49
Feb. 9, 2011
SALT LAKE CITY - Trailing by one point with just over 24 seconds remaining, San Diego State junior Sajoyia Griffin stepped to the free-throw line and converted both ends of a 1-and-1 to lift the Aztecs to a 50-49 victory over Utah Wednesday evening at the Huntsman Center. With the win, SDSU claimed its first victory against the Utes in Salt Lake City since 1995, and improved to 9-13 overall and 3-7 in the MWC, while Utah evened its record at 12-12 and 5-5.
The Aztecs' five starters accounted for all 50 of the team's points. Senior Jessika Bradley (Sacramento, Calif.) and sophomore Courtney Clements (Long Beach, Calif.) both reached double-figures in scoring for the eighth time in 10 league outings with 15 and 13 points, respectively. Senior Paris Johnson (San Diego, Calif.) notched her team-best fifth double-double of the season with 12 points and a game-high 11 rebounds, while becoming just the third player in program history to eclipse the 1,500-mark in career points (1,511). Bradley and Johnson combined for seven of the squad's eight blocked shots and Bradley and Griffin each had three assists in the winning effort.
The two schools traded two baskets each in the first four minutes, before Utah scored three in a row to take a six-point edge at 10-4. The Aztecs then answered with three consecutive lay-ups, knotting the game at 10 apiece. Neither squad was able to score for the next three and a half minutes as Johnson finally broke the stalemate to give the visitors their first lead of the night at 12-10.
After an SDSU free throw continued a 9-0 run, Utah put points on the board for the first time in a span of over eight minutes on back-to-back baskets from forward Michelle Harrison. While the Utes continued to make field goals, the Aztecs managed only four free throws in the final 7:57, as they trailed 26-17 at the break.
San Diego State started the second half with three field goals from three different players and added another bucket each by Johnson and Bradley as it climbed back to within a pair on a triple from freshman Melissa Sweat (Bakersfield, Calif.) at 32-30.
Utah recorded its first nine out of the locker room all from beyond the arc by Iwalani Rodrigues, her team's leading scorer this season, who went without a single point in the first half. Rodrigues' third triple put the Utes ahead 35-30, but the Aztecs continued to stay close, trailing by only one after Clements converted a 3-pointer of her own from the left angle at 45-44.
The game remained a one-point affair heading into the final 24.4 seconds, as Griffin (San Antonio, Texas) went to the free-throw line for a 1-and-1 after being fouled at mid-court. Griffin made both shots at the charity line to give the Aztecs their first lead of the entire second half at 50-49. SDSU then put up a strong defensive stand on the Utes' final offensive possession, as Harrison missed what would have been the game-winning jumper, as SDSU went on to claim the victory.
San Diego State owned a plus-11 advantage on the boards (44-33) and shot over 60 percent from the field in the second half after making only 6-of-21 shots (26.1) in the first 20 minutes. Utah converted only eight buckets after the break and fell despite committing only nine turnovers to the Aztecs' 21.
SDSU heads back to Viejas Arena for a Saturday afternoon contest with UNLV at 2 p.m. The conference match-up is the team's annual WBCA Pink Zone game to raise awareness for breast cancer and is also Girls & Women in Sports Day.