#AztecWBB Rallies Past UCR in Surf `N Slam Opener, 58-57

Danesha Long grabbed a career-best 10 rebounds on Saturday vs. UCR at the Surf 'N Slam.

Dec. 28, 2013

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SAN DIEGO - San Diego State freshman Ariell Bostick (Oakland, Calif.) scored a career-high 12 points, including five straight down the stretch as the Aztec women's basketball team rallied for a 58-57 triumph over UC Riverside in the opening game of the ninth annual San Diego Surf `N Slam Classic on Saturday at Viejas Arena.

With the victory, SDSU (3-6) won back-to-back games for the first time this season, while the Highlanders (4-8) dropped their fifth in a row. The Aztecs will now square off against North Carolina State in the championship final on Monday, starting at 6 p.m. PT. The Wolfpack (12-1) dispatched the Wildcats (5-5) by a 77-60 count in Saturday's nightcap.

SDSU also witnessed double-digit scoring efforts by junior Desi Culberson (Oakland, Calif.), who finished with 11 points, seven rebounds and three assists, while senior Cierra Warren (Rancho Cucamonga, Calif.) and sophomore Deajanae Scurry (Los Angeles, Calif.) tallied 10 points apiece. In addition, the Aztecs received a key contribution from senior Danesha Long (Long Beach, Calif.), who totaled seven points and a career-high 10 rebounds, including six on the offensive glass.

Despite a lackluster performance at the free-throw line in which it sank just 11-of-23 foul shots (47.8 percent), SDSU won the turnover battle for the second game in a row (11-14), scoring 13 points off 11 Highlander miscues in the second half to help fuel its comeback effort. The Aztecs also withstood seven UCR three-pointers, including one by Simone DeCoud, which narrowed a five-point SDSU lead to 57-55 with 13 seconds left in the contest.

The Aztecs trailed by as many as 14 points in the first half and found themselves on the wrong side of a 39-28 score with two minutes elapsed in the second period, before uncorking a 13-0 run over the ensuing 6:16, as a jumper in the lane by sophomore Deidra Smith (Aurora, Colo.) gave the host school its first lead since the opening tip, 41-39, with 11:48 left on the clock. However, the Highlanders answered with a 7-0 blitz of their own, reclaiming a 46-41 advantage following a Natasha Hadley basket at the 10:25 mark.

SDSU responded to the challenge with consecutive buckets by Warren, junior Khristina Hunter (Fairfield, Calif.) and Scurry to vault in front, 47-46, with 7:16 remaining. Moments later, Annalise Ito's jumper gave UCR its last lead of the afternoon before Warren drained three free throws, while Culberson converted a layup to put the Aztecs back in front, 52-48.

The Highlanders managed to tie things up following a pair of Hadley foul shots and a Jamila Williams' jumper. However, Bostick came up huge on SDSU's ensuing possession, burying a three-pointer from the left wing with 1:16 left to put the Scarlet and Black up for good, 55-52. After an Ito misfire from beyond the arc at the UCR end, Bostick displayed some more flair with a key layup to extend the Aztec advantage to 57-52.

The Highlanders would not go away quietly, however, as DeCoud drilled a triple with 13 seconds to go, cutting the margin to 57-55. After a quick foul by Hadley, Bostick nailed one of two free throws before another three-point attempt by DeCoud hit the side of the rim with six seconds on the clock. Akilah Martin converted a layup with two seconds left, but the Aztecs were able to inbound the ball and escape with the one-point win.

DeCoud finished with a game-high 14 points, including a 4-for-8 performance from three-point territory to go with eight rebounds, while Hadley (13 pts.), Martin (13 pts.) and Ito (11 pts.) reached double figures as well in the loss.

After Monday's championship final at the Surf `N Slam, SDSU will open Mountain West play on Thursday, Jan. 2, when it welcomes Colorado State to Viejas Arena. Opening tip for the Aztecs' conference lid-lifter is set for 6 p.m. PT.

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