SAN DIEGO, CA — The San Diego State Aztecs opened their season with a 77-50 Veterans’ Day win against Presbyterian on Steve Fisher Court at Viejas Arena.
San Diego State is coming off an 11-19 2016-17 record with a 9th place finish in the Mountain West Conference, while the Blue Hose traveled from Clinton, S.C. to kick-start their season on the West Coast. Presbyterian comes off a 13-18 overall mark from the 2016-17 season.
However, the game was more than just about the basketball.
San Diego State warmed up in black shirts with “EQUALITY” scrolled across the front. During the anthem, the entire team and coaching staff linked arms.
San Diego State head coach Stacie Terry wanted her team to work on three-pointers during the offseason, and the hard work paid off. Her team went 8-13 in threes during the first half, with four of those coming from forward Lexy Thorderson alone.
And while the team shot great overall (46.2 percent from three; 50 percent overall from the field), the team did struggle with turnovers. The Aztecs committed 18 turnovers on Friday, which coach Terry attributes to freshman nervousness.
“We're going to watch a lot of film on those,” Terry said. “I think we can just watch some film and see where we have better opportunities...they were trying to get some of the freshman going. Once they see it on film, I think we'll be good there.”
Despite the Aztecs’ turnover troubles, the Blue Hose weren’t able to take complete advantage because San Diego State also tallied 45 total rebounds.
But giving Presbyterian enough opportunities to score kept the Blue Hose in the game.
“Defense is something we’ve kind of harped on the past three months,” Terry said. “That, in my opinion, has to be better. 17 points in the second quarter, this is the coach in me, is just entirely too much. We were trying to keep them at about 40, 45 points. And they did a good job of working our zone.”
Ultimately, it was the bench of San Diego State that made the difference. Terry took advantage of that depth and played 14 total players, including all five freshmen, notably tiring the Blue Hose.
“We’re excited about the bench. We have a lot of kids that can score,” Terry said after the win. “I joke saying we look like a football team warming up because we have some many people in uniform.”
Aztec freshman Naje Murray kept tacking on points with 14 total and three treys in a row. Her coaches expect this freshman class to make an immediate impact.
“It is kind of a lot of pressure, but having six seniors definitely helps,” Murray said after the game. “Coming off the bench, we’re able to see exactly what the seniors do, which makes it easier for us.”
Thorderson feels the added depth from the freshman class will give them an edge.
“I think it helps definitely having Naje and other shooters on the team, as well because it makes it harder on the defense,” Thorderson elaborated. “You never know who’s going to be on or who’s going to be making shots. It helps spread out the floor.”
Guards Courtney Storey and Kacie Hall scored 22 and 13 points respectively for Presbyterian in the loss.
Presbyterian College continues their Southern California trip in Los Angeles playing UCLA on Sunday at 5 p.m. EST.
San Diego State hosts Cal State Northridge on Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. PT.