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Strong Second Half Lifts SDSU Past Auburn, 78-57

Courtney Clements scored a game-high 26 points vs. Auburn on Friday.
Courtney Clements scored a game-high 26 points vs. Auburn on Friday.

Nov. 23, 2012

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BOULDER, Colo. - Bolstered by Courtney Clements' 26 points, the San Diego State women's basketball team pulled away in the second half for a 78-57 triumph over Auburn on Friday in the opening game of the 2012 Omni Hotels Classic at Coors Event Center on the University of Colorado campus.

Clements drained six 3-pointers on the evening, while Chelsea Hopkins (14 pts.) led all players with nine rebounds and seven assists to help the Aztecs raise their record to 3-1 on the season. With the victory, SDSU will now face host Colorado in the championship game on Saturday, beginning at 7:30 p.m. MT (6:30 p.m. PT).

The Aztec cause was also aided by Malia Nahinu, who contributed 12 points and eight boards, while Gabrielle Clark and Erimma Amarikwa finished with nine points and six rebounds respectively.

Conversely, the Tigers (3-2) were led by Tyrese Tanner, who totaled 17 points, while sister Tra'cee Tanner collected 13 points and eight boards in the defeat.

SDSU connected on 28 of 60 field goal attempts (46.7 percent), including an 18-for-31 (58.1 percent) clip in the second half as the Aztecs outscored Auburn 49-33 following intermission.

Despite trailing in free throws (21-11), the Aztecs limited the Tigers to a 30.9 shooting percentage from the floor (17-55) and also maintained a 26-18 advantage in the paint.

Auburn took its only lead on the game's first basket, a jumper by Najat Ouardad, before SDSU countered with a 19-4 run, capped by a Clements bucket at the 12:35 mark. Shortly thereafter, the Aztecs extended the margin to 24-9 following a triple by Hopkins with 8:14 remaining in the half.

However, the Tigers closed with a 15-5 rush as two free throws by Hasina Muhammad with six seconds to go tightened the score at 29-24.

Auburn kept the momentum through the first five minutes of the second half, eventually tying the contest at 36-36 on a Courtney Strain 3-pointer with 15:05 remaining. Following a timeout, however, the Aztecs regained the upper hand with seven straight points, punctuated by a Nahinu layup at the 12:05 mark.

Nearly a minute later, a Blanche Alverson triple brought the Tigers back to within three at 45-42 before SDSU responded with a convincing 18-5 run over the next 5:02, highlighted by a 3-pointer and a layup by Ahjalee Harvey.

The lead subsequently ballooned to 22 points as another trey by Clements put the Aztecs comfortably in front at 73-51 with 2:45 left in the game.

SDSU's opponent in the championship final will be Colorado (3-0), which was a 75-48 winner over Texas A&M-Corpus Christi in the second game on Friday.