#AztecWBB Grounds Air Force, 77-66
Feb. 15, 2014
USAF ACADEMY, Colo. - Competing with just seven players for the second game in a row, the San Diego State women's basketball team found a way to win Saturday, utilizing a strong second half to dispatch a plucky Air Force squad, 77-66, in a Mountain West game at Clune Arena.
The Aztecs (9-13, 6-6 MW) overcame a seven-point deficit with strong interior play and clutch shooting to snap their two-game losing skid and extend their winning streak over the Falcons (1-22, 0-13 MW) to eight in a row.
SDSU finished with a 51-26 rebounding advantage, including a 25-10 spread on the offensive glass, outscoring Air Force in the paint (44-26) and on second-chance points (27-9). In addition, the Aztecs shot 51.5 percent from the field (17-33) in the second period after connecting on just 36.1 percent of their field-goal attempts (13-36) in the first half.
Individually, SDSU was paced by senior Cierra Warren (Rancho Cucamonga, Calif.), who tallied a game-high 20 points on 9-of-12 shooting, while senior Danesha Long (Long Beach, Calif.) notched her first career double-double with 18 points and a personal-best 11 rebounds. The Aztecs also received a solid 14-point, eight-rebound performance from junior Khristina Hunter (Fairfield, Calif.), while fellow classmate Chairese Culberson (Oakland, Calif.) reached double figures for the first time this season with 10 points. Not to be outdone, sophomore Deidra Smith (Aurora, Colo.) contributed valuable numbers as well with nine points and a collegiate-best 11 rebounds.
The two sides witnessed seven lead changes and one tie during the first half as Air Force took a slim 35-33 advantage into the locker room following a three-pointer by Sarah Fotsch with 12 seconds left on the clock.
The Falcons increased the margin to seven after the break, capitalizing on six SDSU turnovers in the opening four minutes of the second half. After Madeleine Philpot sank two free throws with 16:15 remaining, Air Force enjoyed its biggest lead of the contest at 42-35. However, the Aztecs quickly regrouped following a timeout as Smith scored two straight baskets to spark a 20-6 run over the ensuing seven-and-a-half minutes.
SDSU misfired on its first eight attempts from three-point territory, until Long buried a triple at the 8:48 mark to give the visitors a seven-point cushion of their own at 55-48.
The Falcons would not go away quietly, however, as a Jimi Blagowsky trey punctuated a 13-4 spurt to put the host school up by a 61-59 count with 5:26 to go.
The Aztecs flashed their resolve at this juncture, with Long converting back-to-back layups to spark an 18-5 closing run. Air Force misfired on six of its last eight field-goal attempts and committed three turnovers, while SDSU drilled six of its final 10 shots from the floor and came up with three huge offensive rebounds during that stretch.
The Falcons were led by Camille Thompson's 16 points, followed by Kelly Lujan, who chipped in 14 points, while Blagowsky totaled 13 points and a game-high nine assists.
The Aztecs conclude their road swing on Wednesday, Feb. 19, when they travel to Utah State for a MW clash, beginning at 7 p.m. MT/6 p.m. PT.