Women's Hoops Set for MW Openers This Week
Dec. 27, 2017
SAN DIEGO -- San Diego State opens its 19th year of Mountain West competition on Thursday when it welcomes Wyoming to Steve Fisher Court for a 6:30 p.m. PT tip-off.
Following the Aztecs-Cowgirls clash, the Scarlet and Black will embark on a quick trip to the Beehive State for a Saturday showdown at Utah State, beginning at 2 p.m. MT/1 p.m. PT.
Both games will feature streaming video via the Mountain West Network/Stadium on GoAztecs.com, with SDSU alumnus Chris Ello also handling play-by-play duties in a live audio webcast for the Aztecs-Aggies encounter.
The Aztecs have been idle since Dec. 22, when they suffered their second straight loss in a 77-64 defeat at UC Santa Barbara.
SDSU received double-digit scoring totals from four players, including a team-high 14 points by Khalia Lark, but it wasn't enough as the Gauchos outscored the Aztecs 50-24 in the second and third periods to erase an early 16-7 deficit.
Despite the setback, SDSU enters conference play with a 6-5 mark, its first winning record through 11 games since the 2012-13 squad posted an 8-3 ledger.
The Aztecs have been paced by senior McKynzie Fort, who finds herself among the MW leaders in several categories, including points (5th, 15.8/gm), free-throw percentage (10th, .766), assists (11th, 3.3/gm) and field-goal percentage (12th, .457).
SDSU has also received a steady performance from senior Geena Gomez, who ranks third in the league with 4.6 assists per contest and a 1.8 assist-to-turnover ratio, while freshman Najé Murray moved into the sixth spot with a .444 percentage from three-point range. In addition, senior Lexy Thorderson occupies the third position with 2.5 triples per game and ranks seventh with a .418 clip from beyond the arc.
San Diego State is 21-20 all-time in conference lid-lifters, posting a 5-4 record in the Western Collegiate Athletic Association (1976-85), a 2-3 ledger in the Big West (1985-90), 7-2 mark in the Western Athletic Conference (1990-99) and a 7-11 record in the Mountain West .
Overall, the Aztecs own a 4-5 mark in MW openers at home and a 3-6 record on the road.
Thursday's game will mark SDSU's first MW opener at home since the 2013-14 campaign, when it suffered a narrow 64-61 loss to Colorado State in head coach Stacie Terry's first season.
In addition, the Aztecs will be facing the Cowgirls in a league lid-lifter for the second time in three years after recording an impressive 84-77 triumph on the road during the 2015-16 season.
The Aztecs have battled Wyoming on 54 previous occasions, marking the third-most frequently played opponent in program history behind New Mexico (60) and UNLV (55). The all-time series is tied 27-27 after the Cowgirls captured an 80-67 decision in Laramie last year when the two sides met just once during the regular season.
Wyoming (7-4) had its three-game winning streak snapped after dropping a 63-40 decision at No. 14/15 Duke in its non-conference finale on Dec. 21.
Individually, the Cowgirls are led by senior guard Liv Roberts, who garnered all-MW accolades last year and landed a spot on the league's all-defensive team. This season, the Missoula, Mont., native is averaging 10.8 points and 6.1 rebounds per game while shooting 40.8 percent from the field.
In addition, Wyoming has received a spark from junior forward Marta Gomez, who has connected on 48.7 percent of her three-point field-goal attempts (19-39), which ranks third in the conference, while sophomore forward Taylor Rusk has drained 17 triples of her own.
Utah State (2-9) enters the first week of Mountain West play having lost three straight, including a 79-44 setback at Utah in its last outing on Dec. 18. Prior to their matchup with the Aztecs, the Aggies will travel to San José State for their conference opener on Thursday.
USU and SDSU engaged two common opponents during their respective non-conference schedules. The Aggies dropped a narrow 87-84 decision at UC Irvine in their season opener on Nov. 10, before falling to Arizona at home by a 65-49 count one week later on Nov. 17.
Individually, USU is led by sophomore Olivia West, who is second in the MW entering the week with an average of 16.7 points per game, while her 2.2 three-pointers per contest and 38.1 percent accuracy from beyond the arc (24-63) rank fifth and ninth, respectively.
In addition, the Aggies have received a boost from fellow classmates Shannon Dufficy (8.9 rpg) and Eliza West (4.2 apg), who occupy the third spot in their respective categories.
The Aztecs lead the all-time series 6-4 after the teams split their two meetings last year. USU emerged with 53-47 triumph in Logan before the Scarlet and Black rebounded with a 66-59 win at Steve Fisher Court.
SDSU is 2-3 in five previous trips to the Cache Valley. The Aztecs posted their last victory there in 2015 with a 70-59 conquest.
Following this week's action, San Diego State will play host to Colorado State on Wednesday, Jan. 3, starting at 6:30 p.m. PT.