Aztecs Beat Wyoming, Clinch Share of MW Title
Feb. 21, 2012
LARAMIE, Wyo. - The San Diego State women's basketball team earned at least a share of the Mountain West Conference regular season title Tuesday by defeating host Wyoming 68-55. The victory was the Aztecs' first at Arena-Auditorium since 1997 and helped the team improve to 21-5 overall and 11-1 in league play. The Cowgirls, meanwhile, dropped to 11-14 overall and 7-5 in MW action.
The Aztecs got 25 points, including 17 in the second half, from the conference's leading scorer in junior Courtney Clements (Long Beach, Calif.). She shot 8-for-15 from the field, 3-of-4 from beyond the arc and was perfect at the stripe to record her 10th, 20-point scoring outing of the season. Junior Malia Nahinu (Hayward, Calif.) also had a strong shooting night, making six of her seven shots to end up with 12 points in only 17 minutes.
Another junior, point guard Chelsea Hopkins (Las Vegas, Nev.), matched her season high with five steals to go with six assists and nine points, while senior Kalena Tutt (Long Beach, Calif.) and freshman Chairese Culberson (Oakland, Calif.) each had a team-best seven boards.
The first half was as close as two teams could get, as the sides traded leads 14 times and were tied on two occasions. The Aztecs opened the game on a 4-0 run with baskets from Nahinu and Clements. The Cowgirls bounced back with seven unanswered points and would go up by as many as five at the 7:44 mark of the first half. SDSU took back the lead at 21-20 by scoring nine of the game's next 12 points, highlighted by a triple out of the right corner from junior Gabrielle Clark (Los Angeles, Calif.).
No squad led by more than three points the rest of the first half, as the Aztecs owned a slim 30-29 advantage at the break.
San Diego State came out of the locker room on a 6-2 run and would build its largest margin to that point at 39-33 on a triple from Clements with 13:06 left in the game. Wyoming, however, closed it to within one at 43-42 on a three-point play from Kayla Woodward.
Clements kept the Aztecs in the lead, scoring each of team's next eight points with a pair of triples and a long jumper to move the visitors back in front by five. It was still a two-point margin with 3:17 left in the game, but San Diego State made nine of its final 10 trips to the free throw line to wrap up the 68-55 win.
SDSU shot over 44 percent from the field for the game and 85.7 percent at the charity line, while enjoying a plus-11 margin on the boards.
Wyoming was led by Alison Gorrell's 16 points and Ashley Sickles' 11 points.
The Aztecs return home before leaving again Friday afternoon for their final regular-season road contest at Colorado State on Saturday, beginning at 2 p.m. MT at Moby Arena. With a victory, San Diego State can claim the regular-season title outright or can also do so with a Ram loss at New Mexico on Wednesday.