Strong Second Half Lifts #AztecWBB Past Air Force, 68-46

Feb. 2, 2013

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The San Diego State women's basketball team received double-digit scoring totals from all five of its starters Saturday, as the Aztecs overpowered visiting Air Force in the second half en route to a 68-46 triumph at Viejas Arena.

With the victory, SDSU (15-5, 6-1) MW extended its season-long winning streak to six games and reclaimed a share of first place in the conference standings with idle Fresno State.

Individually, the Aztecs were led by senior Courtney Clements' (Long Beach, Calif.) 15 points, while classmate Chelsea Hopkins (Las Vegas, Nev.) contributed 14 points, eight rebounds and four steals. In addition, sophomore Erimma Amarikwa tallied 11 points and eight caroms of her own, while seniors Gabrielle Clark (Los Angeles, Calif.) and Malia Nahinu (Hayward, Calif.) finished with 10 points apiece.

Following a sluggish first half in which both teams combined for just 17 baskets, SDSU turned on the afterburners in the second period, connecting on 17 of 28 shots (60.7 percent) while outscoring the Falcons (2-18, 1-6 MW) 30-6 in the paint. The Aztecs also cleaned up on the boards, maintaining a 20-8 rebounding advantage after trailing in that statistic by a 22-16 spread at intermission.

SDSU threatened to make the game a runaway early in the first half, forging an 11-2 lead on a Hopkins layup at the 16:57 mark. The hot start was quickly subdued, however, as the Aztecs misfired on 12 straight field goals attempts over the ensuing nine-and-a-half minutes. SDSU weathered the drought by sinking five free throws and forcing six Air Force turnovers, before consecutive buckets by sophomore Kiyana Stamps (Moreno Valley, Calif.) and Amarikwa put the hosts up 20-10 with 5:22 remaining.

The Falcons countered with a 10-3 run down the stretch, pulling to within 23-20 on a Katie Hilbig jumper with 17 seconds on the clock, before Hopkins buried a clutch 3-pointer at the buzzer to give the Aztecs a 26-20 cushion heading into the locker room.

SDSU rode that momentum in the first seven minutes of the second half, employing a 15-6 run to build a double-digit lead, 41-26, it would not surrender. Back-to-back jumpers by Clements and Amarikwa punctuated the run, before Air Force responded with consecutive baskets of its own, courtesy of Dymond James and Leipprandt. Moments later, James sank two free throws to narrow the gap to 43-32 with 11:55 left, but Air Force could draw no closer the rest of the way. Clements soon drilled a 3-pointer sandwiched around layups by Clark and Hopkins to fuel a 15-3 blitz that provided the Aztecs a 56-35 bulge with 8:21 to go.

The Falcons were led by Leipprandt, who led all players with 18 points on 8-of-shooting, while James totaled 11 points and eight rebounds in the loss. SDSU regrouped from its slow start to shoot 45.6 percent (26-57) for the game, while limiting Air Force to a 34.7 percent (17-49) field goal percentage on the afternoon.

Saturday's contest highlighted National Girls and Women in Sports Day on Montezuma Mesa, as the Aztecs treated the season-high crowd of 1,842 to a victory, followed by a postgame autograph and photo-op session.

SDSU closes out the first half of its MW schedule on Wednesday, Feb. 6, when it travels to Boise State for a 7 p.m. MT (6 p.m. PT) opening tip.