Aztec Women Host New Mexico In Mountain West Conference Home Opener Wednesday

Jan. 21, 2002

Game No. 17

New Mexico (14-4/3-1) at
San Diego State (8-8/0-3)

Wednesday - January 23, 2002
Cox Arena at Aztec Bowl (12,414)
San Diego, Calif.

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Tip-Off: 7:30 p.m.

Webcast: For the second consecutive season all San Diego State women's basketball games can be heard live over the Internet at www. Bill Earley (p-b-p) and Tammy Blackburn (color) will call all the home webcasts, with Dan Lawton handling the play-by-play from the road.

The Records: San Diego State slipped to 8-8 (0-3 MWC) Saturday in Laramie as the Aztecs fell to No. Wyoming, 86-51. New Mexico improved to 14-4 (3-1 MWC) with its 66-55 win over Utah.

In The RPI: San Diego State enters the game ranked No. 173 in the most recent RPI rankings release by Wyoming is ranked No. 28.

SDSU Coach Barb Smith: Smith (Ohio State '86) is in her fifth season at San Diego State. She owns an overall record of 47-77 (.379) with the Aztecs.

UNM Coach Don Flanagan: Flanagan (Ft. Lewis '71) is in his seventh year with the Lobos and has guided New Mexico to a 137-67 (.672) record.

Series History: San Diego State is 13-7 all time versus New Mexico, but just 1-6 versus the Lobos in the last seven meetings. The Aztecs are 6-2 against UNM at home.

Aztecs Host New Mexico In Mountain West Conference Home Opener Wednesday
After opening Mountain West Conference play with three straight road games, San Diego State (8-8/0-3) returns to Cox Arena for the first time in nearly three weeks, when the Aztecs host New Mexico Wednesday at 7:30 p.m.

The game, which is the Aztecs' first at home since a 73-51 drubbing of Portland State back on Jan. 5th, was originally scheduled for Thursday night, but was moved up a day due to a scheduling conflict in Cox Arena.

San Diego State is coming off a tough road trip through the Rockies, dropping a tight 58-49 decision at No. 20 Colorado State before suffering its worst loss of the season at Wyoming, 86-51. The back-to-back losses dropped the Aztecs to 1-6 on the road this season.

Still, SDSU has been a completely different team in Cox Arena this season, winning 6-of-8 by an average nearly 20 points and putting up significantly better numbers in all statistical categories.

New Mexico (14-4, 3-1 MWC) is coming off a home sweep of Brigham Young and Utah last week and is alone in second place in the Mountain West Conference. The game will be just the sixth of the season away from the Pit for the Lobos, who are 4-1 away from University Arena This season.

San Diego State leads the all-time series 13-7, but is just 1-6 versus the Lobos in the last seven games. The Aztecs are 6-2 against New Mexico in San Diego.

At Stake For The Aztecs
The Aztecs are looking to avoid their first four-game losing streak of the season and an 0-4 start in Mountain West Conference action. San Diego State has not opened conference play with four straight losses since the 1978-79 season.

The Aztecs will also be trying to end a six-game conference losing streak dating to last season. San Diego State's last MWC win was a 57-30 rout of Air Force in Cox Arena on Feb. 17, 2001.

A win Thursday night over New Mexico would improve SDSU to 7-2 all time versus the Lobos in San Diego and be the Aztecs' second straight home victory over UNM.

A Quick Look At The Aztecs
With its toughest stretch of the 2001-02 season behind it, San Diego State returns to campus for its first conference homestand of the year looking to get its season back on track. The Aztecs opened conference play with three straight road games but now will close out the regular season by playing seven of its final 11 in Cox Arena, where SDSU is 6-2 this season.

For the first time since very early in the season, someone other than Atim Otii holds the top spot in scoring for the Aztecs. With her 16-point performance at Wyoming Saturday, Claire Swinbank is now San Diego State's leading scorer with an 11.3 ppg average. The senior has now scored in double figures 10 times this season, including six of the last seven games. She is also second on the team and fourth in the MWC in assists with 74.

Otii continues to lead the way on the inside and averaged 9.5 points and 8.5 rebounds on last week's road trip. Overall, the senior is scoring at an 11.1 ppg clip and is San Diego State's leading rebounder at 6.3 rpg.

Two other Aztecs are just one big game away from moving back in to double-digit point territory. Jamey Cox enters the week averaging 9.4 ppg, while Ashonda Williams is averaging 9.0 ppg.

Noting SDSU's Game At Wyoming
San Diego State led by four points eight minutes before the half but gave up Cowgirl runs of 17-3 and 22-2 and never recovered, posting its biggest loss of the year.

The Aztecs shot just 32.8 percent from the field, their second lowest percentage of the season, while Wyoming shot 51.7 percent, the highest of any SDSU opponent this season.

The Cowgirls' 86 points were also an opponent season high.

Claire Swinbank led the Aztecs with 16 points for her 10th double-digit scoring game of the season.

Valencia Howard tied a season high with 12 points.

San Diego State-New Mexico Series Notes
San Diego State leads the all-time series, 13-7. However, New Mexico has won six of the last seven meetings.

The Aztecs are 6-2 against New Mexico in San Diego.

The last three encounters in San Diego between SDSU and UNM have been decided by just over seven points, including the Aztecs' three-point win in Cox Arena last season.

The Aztecs and Lobos split the regular-season series last year before New Mexico edged SDSU, 55-49, in the first round of the Mountain West Tournament.

San Diego State's 56-53 home win over New Mexico last season snapped a five-game losing streak versus the Lobos.

The Aztecs opened the series with 10 straight wins from 1992-95 before New Mexico finally broke into the win column during the '96 season.

San Diego State holds both the highest point total (98, 1994) and largest margin of victory (58, 1994) in the 20-game series.

Aztec head coach Barb Smith is 1-6 against New Mexico.

Lobo head coach Don Flanagan is 7-2 versus San Diego State.

A Quick Look At New Mexico
Fresh off a home sweep of BYU and Utah last week, New Mexico (14-4, 3-1 MWC) comes to San Diego riding a three-game winning streak and has won nine of its last 10 games.

Wednesday's game will be just the second on the road in nearly two months for the Lobos, who are 4-1 away from University Arena this year.

Two Lobos are scoring in double figures this season, paced by all-MWC center Jordan Adams. The junior is averaging 16.3 ppg and ranks fourth in the Mountain West in scoring. The squad's second-leading rebounder, Adams has grabbed an average of 6.3 rpg. She also leads the MWC in blocked shots with 66.

Freshman point guard Mandy Moore is the only other Lobo to average double-digit points and enters the week scoring at a 10.7 ppg clip. The Lobo's top playmaker with 96 assists, Moore trails only SDSU's Jamey Cox in assists per game among conference players.

Head coach Don Flanagan has engineered one of the nation's most incredible turn-arounds since arriving at New Mexico prior to the 1995-96 season. Inheriting a program that was just 14-96 (.127) in the four season from 1992-95, Flanagan has turned the UNM into one of the West's top programs, leading the Lobos to a 137-67 (.672) record heading into Wednesday's meeting with the Aztecs.

San Diego State-New Mexico Connections
New Mexico assistant coach Yvonne Sanchez was a member of San Diego State's coaching staff during the 1999-00 season. Sanchez also played her college ball in San Diego, attending U.S. International, and coached locally on the prep level at Our Lady of Peace.

Aztecs' center Morgan Vargas attended New Mexico Junior College in Hobbs, N.M., prior to transferring to San Diego State.

We've Got This In Common
SDSU and UNM have both beaten Portland State and lost to UNLV this season.

The Last Time We Met: SDSU vs. UNM 3/7/01
LAS VEGAS, Nev. - San Diego State brought its defensive "A" game but was frustrated on the offensive end all afternoon as the Aztecs were edged by eventual WNIT runner-up New Mexico, 55-49, in a nip-and-tuck first-round game at the 2001 Mountain West Tournament.

Atim Otii scored a game- and season-high 21 points and Sophia Sledge went out in style, adding a season-best 17 for San Diego State.

Three players finished in double figures for New Mexico, paced by Miranda Sanchez's 15 points.

The Aztecs used a stingy defensive effort to take a 21-19 lead at intermission after forcing 14 Lobo turnovers and holding New Mexico to just 8-for-23 shooting from the field in the first half.

New Mexico, which got 12 points each from Jordan Adams and Molly McKinnon, broke out of its offensive woes coming out of the break, however, opening the period with a 10-0 run and holding SDSU without a point for the first 6:13 of the period.

SDSU, which never trailed by more than eight points, kept things close and sliced UNM's lead to just 48-47 following Sledge's fourth 3-pointer with 31 seconds to play.

But that's as close as the Aztecs would get as New Mexico scored seven of the game's final nine points.

Home Never Looked So Good
San Diego may be one of America's most beautiful cities, but it never looked so good to the Aztecs than on Sunday when they touched down at Lindbergh field after completing their three-game conference-opening road trip.

The Aztecs, who haven't played at home since Jan. 5th, completed the trip 0-3, suffering a 12-point loss at UNLV and a nine-point defeat at Colorado State before the road-weary troop was buried at Wyoming by 35.

The three straight losses dropped SDSU's record away from campus to 2-6 this season, including a 1-6 mark on enemy turf.

By contrast, the Aztecs are 6-2 at home and have won four straight in Cox Arena.

SDSU won't get much time to enjoy its homestand, however, as the Aztecs head right back out on the road next week for games at BYU and Utah.

Dangerous In Cox
San Diego State may have lost its last three games-- all on the road-- but the Aztecs have been dangerous in Cox Arena over the past two years. Dating to the start of last season, San Diego State is 14-6 (.700) overall and 4-3 (.571) versus Mountain West Conference competition.

In fact, since the beginning of the 2000-01 campaign, 14 of SDSU's 21 overall wins (67 percent) have come in the friendly confines of Cox Arena.

Statistically, SDSU is averaging over 17 points per game more at home this season and is shooting over seven percentage points higher, while limiting opponents to just nearly 12 fewer points, a 4.5-percent lower shooting average and almost 10 more turnovers.

Streaking With The Aztecs
After winning three in a row to close out its pre-conference schedule, San Diego has now dropped three straight to open league play.

It is the first time this season the Aztecs have lost three consecutive games.

San Diego State enters Wednesday's game with New Mexico riding a four-game home winning streak.

The Aztecs closed out their pre-conference schedule with three consecutive victories.

Like Deja Vu All Over Again
San Diego State's three-game winning streak to close out its 2001-02 pre-conference schedule improved the Aztecs to 8-5 in non-conference games. It is the same record with which SDSU concluded its 2000-01 non-league slate and matches last year's start as its best under current head coach Barb Smith.

Like last year, the Aztecs took some time to gel out of the gates and closed non-conference play with victories in 5-of-6 games. A season ago, SDSU started out 3-5 before ending its pre-league schedule on a five-game winning streak.

Winning Big
When San Diego State has won this season it has done so in convincing fashion, winning by an average of 17.5 points in its eight victories.

The Aztecs' 22-point win over Portland State was its fourth this year by 20 or more points. Last year, SDSU posted only three wins of 20 or more points for the entire season.

Better On The Boards
San Diego State has out-rebounded six of its last seven opponents, including UNLV by three in Las Vegas, and Wyoming by two in Laramie.

Prior to the Creighton game -- the last time SDSU lost the rebounding war prior to the CSU game -- the Aztecs had been out-boarded in four straight and were averaging -3.4 rpg on the season.

Overall this season, San Diego State has out-rebounded 9-of-16 (.563) opponents. Last year the Aztecs won the battle of the boards in just 9-of-28 (.321) games.

SDSU posted its largest rebounding margin of the year against Radford, grabbing 41 boards to RU's 24. The Highlanders' 24 rebounds were also the fewest by an Aztec opponent on the season.

The Aztecs are dead even (0.0 rpg) in rebounding margin this season.

Last year SDSU finished up -4.1 in rebounding.

So far this season, San Diego State is 6-3 when out-rebounding an opponent. The Aztecs lost for just the third time when dominating the glass at Wyoming.

Getting Defensive
San Diego State had been ranked among the nation's top defensive teams prior to its trip to Wyoming. The Cowgirls became the first Aztec opponent this season to shoot better than 50 percent. Prior to that game, SDSU had allowed just three of its last 11 opponents to shoot better than 40 percent and had held 6-of-8 below 60 points.

Still, the Aztecs' overall defensive performance in the last 12 games has been impressive as opponents have connected on just 38 percent (244-of-639) of their attempts since SDSU's win over Navy on Nov. 25th.

For the season, the Aztecs have held half of their opponents to 40 percent or worse shooting from the field, including San Jose State (36 percent), Sacramento State, (27 percent -- a season-low for an SDSU opponent), UMKC (33 percent), Radford (30 percent), Portland State (38 percent), UNLV (39.6 percent) and CSU (40 percent) in seven of their last nine games.

Either Way It's All Good
San Diego State has found it can win with both defense and offense this season. Through 16 games, the Aztecs are a perfect 5-0 when scoring at least 70 points. SDSU is also 6-1 when holding an opponent below 60 points.

The Best Offense Is...
San Diego State has held six of its last nine opponents below 60 points, winning five of the six games games. In fact, just three opponents this season have managed to crack the 70-point barrier.

The Aztecs lost for the first time this season when holding an opponent below 60 points last Thursday in Fort Collins, falling to Colorado State, 58-49.

Last Saturday at UNLV, the Aztecs held the Lady Rebels to 13 points below their season scoring average, but still missed the key 60-point mark in a 67-55 loss.

Playing strong defense has been one of the big keys to victory over the past two seasons for SDSU, which is 26-7 (.788) during that span when holding an opponent under 60 points.

You Gotta Make Your Free Throws
Getting to the free throw line and then converting has been crucial for San Diego State this season.

So far, the Aztecs have taken more free throws than their opponents just four times and have won all four games.

On the conversion front, SDSU has connected on just 67 percent of its free throws this season, but has shot over 70 percent in its victories (62 percent in losses).

Since the start of Mountain West Conference play, San Diego State's free throw disparity has been huge as UNLV, Colorado State, and Wyoming had over 20 free throw attempts. In fact, the trio made over twice as many freebies (62) as the Aztecs even attempted (30).

New To You
After using the same starting lineup in the first eight games of the season, SDSU head coach Barb Smith has shaken things up of late and has used a different set of starters in five of the last eight games. Atim Otii, Jamey Cox and Claire Swinbank are the only Aztecs to have started all 13 games this season.

Starting Lineup (F-F-C-G-G)                Record
Williams, Otii, Vargas, Swinbank, Cox        4-4
Schomaker, Otii, Vargas, Swinbank, Cox       1-0
Schomaker, Otii, McCartny, Swinbank, Cox     0-1
Knight, Otii, McCartny, Swinbank, Cox        2-0
Williams, Howard, Otii, Swinbank, Cox        1-2
Williams, Otii, McCartny, Swinbank, Cox      0-1

Stop, Thief
San Diego State's defensive intensity has been most obvious of late in the steals category. Over the last nine games -- five of which were SDSU wins -- the Aztecs have registered double-figure steals six times, and narrowly missed making it seven with nine steals at UNLV. SDSU grabbed a season-high 20 against Radford and 18 versus Detroit to close out its pre-conference slate. The Aztecs are 6-1 this year when reaching double-digits in steals and lost for the first time this season when picking up at least 10 thefts at Colorado State. With 10.25 spg, San Diego State ranks third in the MWC.

Spreading The Wealth
San Diego State has had seven players score in double digits at least twice. Atim Otii leads the way with 12 double-digit scoring games with Claire Swinbank (10) and Ashonda Williams (9) and not far behind. Jamey Cox owns eight double-digit scoring games, while Morgan Vargas and Valencia Howard have three each. Missy Schomaker rounds out the group with two.

Whose Got Next?
Through 16 games, the scoring has been spread around by the Aztecs, who have had five different players turn in high-point honors. Claire Swinbank and Ashonda Williams have led SDSU in scoring six times each to pace the team.

A Sweet Six
With its win over Portland State, San Diego State won its sixth non-conference home game of the year. It is the first time in six seasons that the Aztecs have posted six non-league home wins. Including its victory over the Vikings last Saturday, the Aztecs closed out their 2001-02 non-league home slate at 6-2, their most pre-conference home wins since SDSU went 6-0 at home in non-conference play during the 1995-96 campaign.

Offensive Output
Atim Otii continues to be one of the Mountain West's hottest shooters and enters the week ranked No. 4 in the league in field goal percentage. Though she has only paced San Diego State on the scoreboard three times this season, Otii leads the Aztecs in double-figure scoring games with 12, including 15 points at CSU.

Starts Piling Up For Otii
San Diego State senior Atim Otii made her 71st consecutive start at Wyoming. She is the only Aztec to start every game over the past two-plus seasons.

Michelle Suman owns SDSU's career record for consecutive starts with 118.

Crashing the Offensive Glass
Atim Otii may lead the Aztecs in rebounding with a solid 6.3 rebounds per game. But when you look inside the numbers the senior's totals become even more impressive. Through 16 games, nearly half of Otii's rebounds (49-of-100) have come on the offensive glass. Her 3.06 offensive rebounds per game ranks fourth in the Mountain West Conference, while her overall rebounding total is just ninth.

Double Plays
In addition to being the Aztecs' second leading scorer, Otii also leads the team in rebounding (6.3 rpg) and in double-doubles (3). The senior recorded double-double No. 3 of the season at Creighton with 12 points and a career-tying-best of 12 rebounds. Otii has also recorded double-doubles this year versus Cal Poly (16-10) and Navy (17-11).

More Than Ever Before
Otii entered 2001-02 with two career double-doubles. She has already exceeded that number this season alone and now owns five for her career. She is the only Aztec to post a double-double this year.

Swinbank Continues To Shine
Senior Claire Swinbank is playing some of the best basketball of her collegiate career over the past seven games. The Aztecs leading scorer four times over the span, Swinbank has averaging 13.7 points, 5.0 rebounds and 4.6 assists during the last six games.

More 'Bank Shots
By scoring in double digits in six of the last seven games, Claire Swinbank has now scored in double figures in 10-of-16 outings this season and has taken over as SDSU's leading scorer with 11.3 ppg.

The senior is also prominent in the Mountain West Conference rankings and is No. 14 in scoring, No. 4 in assists, No. 2 in steals and No. 4 in assist-to-turnover ratio. Since the start of MWC play, she has been ever more impressive and ranks No. 13 in scoring, No. 9 in rebounding, No. 6 in assists, No. 9 in free throw percentage, No. 2 in steals, and No. 7 in assist-to-turnover ratio.

Poised From The Perimeter
Jamey Cox and Ashonda Williams may get most of the attention as SDSU's top outside threats, but Claire Swinbank as been the Aztecs' most consistent shooter from the perimeter thus far.

Swinbank is hitting at a 42-percent clip from the floor, tops among the Aztecs' perimeter players, including 46 percent (10-for-22) from beyond the arc.

Swinbank is also second on the team in assists with 74 (4.6 apg) and had a career-best nine versus Navy earlier this season.

Cox Heating Up In Time For Conference
Jamey Cox snapped a four-game drought of non-double figure scoring games with her 13 points against Radford. She followed that performance up with 14 points against Detroit, a game-high 16 versus Portland State and 10 at UNLV. She has now scored in double digits eight times this season and 43 times during her 70-game career.

3-Point Threat
Jamey Cox continues to show why she is considered one of the Mountain West's most dangerous players from beyond the arc. Cox, who has connected on 36 percent (28-for-78) of her 3-point attempts this season, has hit at least one three in 15-of-16 games on the year. Cox enters the week ranked No. 10 in the Mountain West Conference in 3-point shooting and No. 5 in 3-pointers made per game. She has now made 147 treys during her two-plus year career at SDSU to rank No. 2 all time in that category behind two-time honorable mention All-American Falisha Wright, who knocked down 206 triples from 1992-95.

Two Can Play At That Game
In addition to ranking among the Mountain West Conference's top scorers, Jamey Cox and Claire Swinbank are also among the league's top playmakers. Cox has had at least six assists in 11-of-16 games this year, including a season-high eight against both Radford and UNLV. She now has 86 (5.4 apg) assists this season to rank No. 1 in the Mountain West Conference. Swinbank, who has 74 on the year, has had at least four assists in eight of the last nine games. She is ranked No. 5 on the MWC assist chart with 4.6 apg.

As Advertised
Junior-college transfer Ashonda Williams came to San Diego State with a reputation as a big-time scorer after pouring in over 1,200 points in just two seasons at Contra Costa College. Through 15 games, Williams has already finished in double figures nine times and has led the Aztecs in scoring in six games, including her 16-point performance at UNLV. She is averaging 9.0 ppg to rank fourth on the team in scoring.

Bombs Away
For two years, the Aztecs have been looking for an outside shooter to compliment Jamey Cox. It appears that search is now over as newcomer Ashonda Williams continues to knock down shot after shot from beyond the arc.

Williams, who led the California state JC ranks in three-point shooting last season, has been more than solid since arriving at SDSU and ranks seventh in the Mountain West Conference in 3-point shooting at 40.3 percent, including 9-for-19 from behind the line in the last five games.

The junior opened the UNLV contest with three straight triples and tied a career-high with four for the game. She now trails only Jamey Cox in 3-pointers made with 25 this season, a figure that ranks seventh in the Mountain West.

On The Horizon
San Diego State wrap up their brief two-game homestand Saturday at 5 p.m. when the Aztecs host Air Force in the first game of a women's-men's doubleheader at Cox Arena.

SDSU swept the season series with the Academy last year and are 7-1 all-time versus the Falcons.

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