Fort's Late Layup Sinks Toreros, 77-76

Nov. 29, 2017

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SAN DIEGO -- Behind McKynzie Fort's driving layup with eight seconds remaining and Khalia Lark's game-clinching steal, the San Diego State women's basketball team defeated the University of San Diego in thrilling fashion Wednesday night, 77-76, at Steve Fisher Court.

With the victory, the Aztecs raise their record to 4-2 on the season, snapping a four-game losing streak to the Toreros, who fell to 5-2 overall.

The two teams battled through a whopping 13 ties and 24 lead changes with neither side able to build on more than a six-point advantage.

Fort led all players with a season-high 24 points on 10-of-16 shooting (.625) and a personal-best eight assists, while Lexy Thorderson chipped in 16 points of her own, highlighted by a 5-for-8 performance from beyond the three-point arc. In addition, the SDSU cause was aided by Najé Murray, who finished with 10 points, while Arantxa Gomez Ferrer totaled a season-high points on the evening.

USD posted a greater overall field-goal percentage (46.8 to 41.9); however, the Scarlet and Black came up huge when it mattered most, connecting on 9 of 16 attempts in the decisive fourth quarter. The Aztecs also maintained a 38-36 edge in rebounds, including a 16-11 spread on the offensive glass, and committed three fewer turnovers (12-15) to help key their win.

SDSU seemingly gave itself some breathing room at the 5:13 mark of the fourth quarter, building a 65-59 bulge after a Fort jumper. However, the Toreros responded with a 9-2 spurt, capped by Aubrey Ward-El's three-pointer, to stake a brief 69-68 lead with 2:43 left in the contest.

The Aztecs vaulted back in front on their ensuing possession thanks to an old fashioned three-point play by Baylee Vanderdoes, which sparked a 6-1 run.

Leading 74-70 with 31 seconds to go, USD's Sydney Williams hit a triple to cut the margin to one, while Thorderson made one of two free throws at the other end, giving the Aztecs a 75-73 edge with 19 seconds on the clock.

Incredibly, Williams dialed up from long range once again, burying a shot from the top of the key to put Toreros on top with 15 seconds showing. However, SDSU flashed its resiliency as Fort drove the length of the court on the inbounds pass, splitting three defenders in the lane before directing a right-handed scoop shot into the net for the go-ahead points.

Lark came up with a clutch steal on the ensuing play, stripping Williams of the ball in the backcourt before getting fouled. The Aztec guard missed both free throws, but in the scramble the clock expired as the SDSU bench erupted in jubilation.

Williams led USD with 17 points on 7-of-11 shooting, while Ward-El (14), Alexandra Hagen (13) and Myah Pace (10) recorded double-digit scoring totals.

Earlier, the Toreros grabbed a pair of five-point advantages in the second quarter, including a 27-22 bulge following a three-pointer by Hagen with 5:45 remaining in the period. However, the Scarlet and Black kept things close, ultimately taking a 35-34 lead into locker room courtesy of a Thorderson trey with six seconds to go before intermission, punctuating a 13-7 surge.

The third quarter also witnessed a seesaw affair, with neither side able to enjoy more than a three-point lead. USD missed four free throws in the period, while Geena Gomez hit a jumper with 28 seconds left to give SDSU a slim one-point margin 52-51 heading into the decisive fourth quarter.

The Aztecs will be back in action on Sunday, Dec. 3, when they travel to the desert to face Arizona, starting at 2 p.m. MT/1 p.m. PT.

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