San Diego State Uses Second-Half Surge to Avenge Last Week's Loss to Nevada
By W.G. Ramirez
Special to TheMW.com
LAS VEGAS - Less than one week after losing in Reno in the season-finale, seventh-seeded San Diego State got revenge with a 70-48 victory over Nevada in the 2015 Mountain West Women's Basketball Championship, at the Thomas and Mack Center.
The Aztecs (12-18) used a balanced scoring attack that saw 10 of the 11 players who saw playing time, score at least two points. Four San Diego State players - Erimma Amarikwa, Ahjalee Harvey, McKynzie Fort and Ariell Bostick - finished with 10 points. It was the second time in the last three games the Aztecs had four players score in double figures - both times resulting in double-digit wins for San Diego State.
"We talk a lot about (being) a blue collar team," San Diego State coach Stacie Terry said. "We don't have a standout kid and we have to do it by committee. That's exactly what we did today. I'm proud with the effort and proud we could come out with the W tonight."
San Diego State, which has now won four straight openers in the MW Tournament, advances to play second-seeded New Mexico in Tuesday's quarterfinals, at 6 p.m.
Bostick said Monday's win over Nevada helped take the sting out of last week's 50-44 loss to the Wolf Pack, while boosting the team's confidence for New Mexico.
"It was part revenge, (and) part we want to keep going in the tournament," said Bostick, a sophomore, who also dished out five assists in the win. "We wanted to do it for our seniors. I definitely wanted to do it for our seniors this year. We weren't able to succeed last year. Our determination was for the seniors to go out with that. We had to keep the gas going until the last second, so I had to keep it going, keep the tempo up."
It was a game of runs for the majority of the night, as San Diego State went on a 16-4 run midway through the first half to take a 26-15 lead with 5:27 left. But after a timeout, the Wolf Pack responded with an 11-3 run of its own, as 6-foot-8 Gabonese center Mimi Mungedi scored eight of those points to make it 29-28 before the end of the half. A 3-pointer by the Aztecs in the closing moments gave them a 32-28 halftime lead.
Nevada (9-21) opened the second half two baskets to tie the game at 32, with 17:48, after a layup from Mungedi.
Terry, who called a timeout at that point, said she sat Hunter three minutes into the half because of her defense, or lack thereof, and the Aztecs responded with a 10-1 run over the next 4:51.
"I got on (Hunter) pretty good (and) I subbed her out," Terry said. "She wasn't defending like I think she needed to. I didn't think our effort from all five players was what it takes to win a conference championship. I used that timeout to get on them pretty good. To Khristina's credit, she went down to the end of the bench, pouted for about a minute, then came back and played well."
So well, that Mungedi - the league's 11th-best scorer and leading rebounder - managed just six points and one rebound the rest of the way. Mungedi finished with 23 points and four rebounds.
"Taking a kid that averages 10 rebounds and holding her to four is a great accomplishment for us," Terry said. "We have to do that to win. We have to dominate the boards. We are about to face a good rebounding team. I'm glad we came out on the winning end of the rebounds tonight.
San Diego State outrebounded the Wolf Pack, 33-24, while the Aztecs' bench outscored Nevada's, 24-9.
"We didn't play well today, we know that we didn't," Nevada coach Jane Albright said. "I'm disappointed in how we played, but I'm not disappointed in this group. It was certainly not the way we wanted to end, particularly after having such a good outing for Senior Night."
Willie Ramirez is a Las Vegas-based freelance reporter and Southern Nevada correspondent for The Associated Press. Follow him on Twitter: @AP_WG