San Diego, CA — Fans filled Viejas Arena for Military Appreciation Night as San Diego State University brought down the house against Utah State.
SDSU came out of the gates strong with a quick six points. McKynzie Fort scored an aggressive layup followed by a full court sprint to the basket for another two points. Then, Khalia Lark connected with Arantxa Gomez for another layup for the Aztecs.
“Just by attacking the rim, it opened up the lanes. In terms of momentum, everyone gained it off the bounce,” discussed Fort on the upbeat tempo they set.
After regrouping from a timeout, the Aggies finally got on the board with Rachel Brewster’s open jump shot followed by Shannon Dufficy’s layup, making it a two-point game.
Brewster capitalized on the newfound Utah State energy with back-to-back jump shots. By the end of the opening 10 minutes, the Aggies trailed 12-11.
With only a one-point lead heading into the second, Aztecs’ guard Kymberly Ellison, opened with a three-point play after being taken to the line by sophomore Lizzy Kinker.
Ellison’s old fashion three-point play seemed to be a domino effect for her team to get three-point plays. Not long after, Geena Gomez hit a three from the top of the arc and then Lexy Thorderson followed in her footsteps in the exact same spot on the next possession, increasing San Diego State’s lead to 10.
Geena Gomez definitely was feeling the momentum, as she took another shot from downtown, giving her nine points for the quarter and extended SDSU’s lead to 35-22 at the half.
“We are a really good defensive team when we want to be, so we needed to focus on that, which we did,” stated Gomez on their overall defensive performance.
Coming into the second half still thriving off the earlier momentum, Lark sunk a deep three from the right side, increasing the Aztec’s lead to 15 points.
Point guard Eliza West had just about had enough, trying to take control back into the Aggies’ hands. West hit a wide open three-pointer then scored a nice crossover layup to cut the deficit to nine.
But Thorderson was not going to let this slight comeback go any further, hitting back-to-back three-pointers from the right side.
At the end of the third quarter, SDSU lead 54-40.
With the final quarter of play underway, the Aggies were not going down without a fight. Senior Antonia Robinson scored an aggressive put back, followed by a nice three-pointer by Jessie Geer. With 5:40 remaining in the game, Utah State once again cut the lead down to nine points.
Coming out of a timeout, Katie Toole knocked down a wide open three-pointer. San Diego State’s defense continued to give it their all, forcing another Aztec turnover with a shot clock violation. Dee Moore responded on the other end for the Aggies by draining a jumper to cut their deficit to only five points.
Once again San Diego State responded with their own basket to extend the lead once again however, with a 1:18 remaining on the clock, West had a calculated pass to Brewster before Brewster hit another three-pointer to trail once again by five. Brewster finished with 14 points, two rebounds and two assists.
Unfortunately, the magic stopped for the Aggies as they could not overcome their deficit and San Diego State escaped with the victory, 66-59.
Fort finished the night with 19 points, seven rebounds, three assists and one steal to lead the Aztec.
“For the first time in a long time, our defense won the game. We beat them on the boards and handled them on the offensive glass,” stated SDSU head coach Stacie Terry.
San Diego State University will head to UNLV for their upcoming game this Saturday, Feb. 18 at 4pm PT.