#AztecWBB Stymies Spartans, 77-63
Feb. 26, 2014
SAN JOSÉ, Calif. - Balanced scoring and a strong interior presence were on display Wednesday night as the San Diego State women's basketball team registered a 77-63 road victory over San José State in a Mountain West game at The Event Center.
For the ninth time this season, the Aztecs (11-14, 8-7 MW) received double-digit point totals from four players, including sophomore Deidra Smith (Aurora, Colo.) and junior Khristina Hunter (Fairfield, Calif.), who both finished with double-doubles. In addition, SDSU dominated the middle, maintaining a 60-28 rebounding advantage, including a 40-15 spread on the defensive glass, while outscoring the Spartans (10-16, 4-11 MW) by a sizeable 50-24 margin in the paint.
Smith posted career-highs of 20 points and 12 rebounds, while Hunter racked up 16 points and a game-best 14 caroms. Senior Cierra Warren (Rancho Cucamonga, Calif.) and fellow classmate Danesha Long (Long Beach, Calif.) also got into the act, contributing 16 points apiece, as the Aztec quartet combined for 30 of San Diego State's 32 field goals on the night.
In all, the Scarlet and Black connected on 32-of-61 tries from the floor (52.5 percent), while limiting SJSU to a 22-for-74 clip on its shot attempts (29.7 percent). The Aztecs also benefited from the Spartans' cold shooting from three-point territory, with the host school draining just 8 of 38 attempts from beyond the arc (21.1 percent).
With the victory, SDSU swept the regular-season series from SJSU and moved into sole possession of sixth place in the MW standings with three games left to play, following UNLV's loss at Colorado State on Wednesday.
The two sides witnessed three ties in the opening six-and-a-half minutes before the Aztecs reeled off nine points in a row, capped by consecutive Warren layups, to take the lead for good at 18-9 by the 10-minute mark. The Spartans answered with a quick 8-0 spurt of their own, highlighted by two Rebecca Woodberry triples; however, Warren sank a pair of foul shots, while Smith followed with a layup to give SDSU a 22-17 advantage with 7:29 left in the half.
Another Woodberry three-pointer tightened the score moments later, but that would be as close as SJSU would get for the remainder of the contest. Shortly thereafter, Long buried the Aztecs' lone trey of the game, punctuating a 7-0 blitz that restored the visitors' advantage to nine at 29-20 with 4:34 to go. Then in the final two-plus minutes of the period, Smith began to heat up, scoring six straight points, while Warren added a layup with 19 seconds left to provide SDSU a 39-29 cushion heading into the locker room.
Despite turning the ball over 17 times in the half, which led to 13 Spartan points, the Aztecs limited SJSU to just 26 percent shooting (10-38), including a 5-for-21 clip (24 percent) from three-point territory.
It was Hunter's turn to steal the spotlight after the break, with the SDSU forward scoring 10 points during an 18-10 run that gave the Scarlet and Black its biggest lead of the night at 57-39 with 11:23 left in the game.
However, the Aztecs went into a funk over the ensuing five-plus minutes, making just three of 11 field goals, allowing the Spartans to crawl back into contention. Jasmine Smith scored five straight points during that stretch, including an old-fashioned three-point play, and when Ta'Rea Cunnigan nailed a jumper at the 6:12 mark, SJSU trailed by just six, 63-57. The Spartans had a chance to narrow the gap even further following an SDSU miss; however, two shots from behind the arc went awry.
The Aztecs weathered the threat as Hunter quickly converted a layup, while Long added two straight baskets sandwiched around an empty SJSU possession to restore the visitors' advantage to double digits at 69-56 with 3:43 to go. The Spartans managed to trim the margin to nine at 71-62 with 2:35 remaining after a pair of Woodberry foul shots, but could draw no closer as SDSU sank six free throws of its own down the stretch to secure the win.
Cunnigan and Woodberry led SJSU with 17 points apiece, while Jasmine Smith just missed a double-double with 15 points and nine rebounds in the loss.
The Aztecs will return to action on Saturday, March 1, when they play host to Fresno State at Viejas Arena, starting at 2 p.m. PT.