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Morris' Buzzer-Beater Carries SDSU To 54-52 Win Over UC Riverside

Jené Morris hit the game-winning jumper against UC Riverside.
Jené Morris hit the game-winning jumper against UC Riverside.

Dec. 4, 2008

Final Stats |  Photo Gallery 

SAN DIEGO - San Diego State's Jené Morris (San Francisco, Calif.) hit the game-winning basket at the buzzer to help the Aztec basketball team defeat the visiting UC Riverside Highlanders, 54-52, Thursday evening at Cox Arena in front of a crowd of 1,681 fans. The Aztecs trailed by as many as eight points in the first half and failed to score for over five and a half minutes mid-way through the second half, but outscored the Highlanders 9-3 in the final 2:43 to pull out the win. With the victory, SDSU improved to 5-3 on the season, while UCR dropped to 2-4 overall.

"I thought Jené and Jennifer (Layton-Bailes) made huge shots," Aztec head coach Beth Burns said. "It's one thing to have a shot and it's another to make those kind of shots. We get energy from our defense and feed off having a positive defensive play which helped us. We had seven straight (defensive) stops at one point in this game, which helps you relax more on the offensive side."

Morris hit her first four three-point field goals of the evening and finished 5-for-6 from beyond the arc for a team-best 19 points to go with three steals and three assists. Morris was the only Aztec in double-figure scoring as senior Jennifer Layton-Bailes (Sacramento, Calif.) had nine points on 4-for-6 shooting. Junior point guard Quenese Davis (Sacramento, Calif.) led the team in rebounding (7) and assists (7) in 37 minutes of action.

SDSU opened the game with a 3-0 lead on a Morris three-pointer, but the Highlanders quickly matched her effort with a triple of their own to tie the score at 3-3. UCR took the lead on a free-throw at the 18:21 mark and held the advantage until a 7-0 Aztec run put the home team in front 12-10. A Kemie Nekele three-pointer restored order in the visitor's favor and UC Riverside led by a game-high eight points at the half, 29-21, behind a 54.5 shooting percentage.

The Aztecs, meanwhile, shot just 29 percent from the field in the first half, but came out of the locker room with two Morris three-pointers in the first minute and a half to get to within four at 31-27. The Highlanders led by six points at 39-33 and by five at 41-26, but a Davis three-pointer and a jumper inside from Paris Johnson helped SDSU even the score at 41 points.

Following the game's sixth tie score at 45-45, neither side could get its offense going as the teams went without a point for the next three minutes when the Highlanders made back-to-back buckets in the paint to once again lead by four, 49-45.

Morris' final three-pointer of the game broke the Aztecs' scoring drought at 49-48, and Layton-Bailes converted a long distance two-pointer from straightaway for a one-point lead at 50-49. UCR was not done, however, erasing a three-point Aztec advantage and knotting the game at 52-52 with just 21 seconds remaining.

Coming out of a timeout, Morris hit the winning basket from the right elbow just before the buzzer sounded for the 54-52 victory.

SDSU shot just 38.3 percent from the floor, but made seven three-pointers and forced 22 Highlander turnovers.

UC Riverside was led by Mira Mesa High School product Nekele, who had 17 points and six boards, while Tainoisoouti Lott had a double-double with 10 points and a game-high 15 rebounds.

San Diego State continues its month-long homestand next week with another non-conference game Thursday evening at 7 p.m. against Montana State. Live audio, video and stats will be available on SDSU's official website, www.goaztecs.com.