Ramos returns to the floor, gets 1000th-career point

San+Diego+State+junior+guard+Sophia+Ramos+looks+to+drive+inside+during+the+Aztecs%27+80-65+loss+to+UNLV+on+Feb.+15%2C+2021+at+Viejas+Arena.

Kyle Betz

San Diego State junior guard Sophia Ramos looks to drive inside during the Aztecs’ 80-65 loss to UNLV on Feb. 15, 2021 at Viejas Arena.

by Kyle Betz and Breven Honda

San Diego State women’s basketball junior guard Sophia Ramos was only 11 points away from scoring 1,000 points in her collegiate career entering the Aztecs’ second Mountain West Conference game on Dec. 10, 2020. 

However, just two minutes into the second conference game, she suffered a hand injury and would be out for an extended period of time. 

Prior to the injury in SDSU’s first five games, the 5-foot-9 guard was averaging 20.2 points and 8.0 rebounds in 37.8 minutes. 

A member of the all-Mountain West team last year and on the all-conference freshman team two seasons ago, Ramos has started in all but one game and played in every single game during her collegiate career before the injury.

San Diego State junior guard Sophia Ramos looks onto the floor during halftime of the Aztecs’ 73-63 loss to the Mustangs on Dec. 21, 2020 at Viejas Arena. Ramos is seen with a hand cast, which she wore for about two months due to injury. (Kyle Betz)

That’s 69 consecutive games played and 67 consecutive starts. (The only game she did not start was the second game of her freshman season.)

Since her rookie season in 2018-19, the 5-foot-9 guard had averaged 35.1 minutes a game prior to the injury.

But with all the honors and statistics Ramos earned, never had she faced an injury in her basketball career, even before she stepped foot onto Montezuma Mesa. 

“Actually, this is the first time I’ve had to sit out ever since I’ve started playing,” Ramos said. “Overall, it’s been really difficult. Luckily, there’s been little victories every day so it’s been making it easier but overall it has been tough not being able to go out there and play.”

Up until Monday, Ramos had not seen the floor in over two months but achieved her biggest victory yet.

That victory came when the Aztecs faced UNLV on Monday, coming off a 10-day layoff. 

Less than two minutes into the game, Ramos was at the scorer’s table ready to check in and play with 2018-19 MWC all-freshman teammate Mallory Adams for the first time in 446 days.

Ramos said one of her favorite moments of the past week was learning she would play alongside Adams again.

“Oh, I loved it,” Ramos said. “This was one of those when we found out that I was going to be able to play this week, that was one of the highlights for us was just getting back together… That’s my best friend, that’s my sister — that’s who I came in with and it felt better than words could put together to be back out there with her.”

Ramos, who had a black brace on her hand, played 34 minutes. With 3:12 left in the game, another victory came when she scored a fastbreak layup — the 1000th and 1001st points of her collegiate career. 

The preseason all-conference pick had 12 points, a team-high five rebounds, an assist and was a perfect 6-for-6 at the free throw line.

San Diego State junior guard Sophia Ramos smiles before shooting a pair of free throws during the Aztecs’ 80-65 loss to UNLV on Feb. 15, 2021 at Viejas Arena. Ramos is seen wearing a small brace on her right hand in her first game back from injury. (Kyle Betz)

Associate athletic trainer Queenie Soriano helped Ramos fit her hand brace. Ramos said the brace did not affect her play and credited Soriano and assistant coach Nick Grant for helping her return to the court.

“I couldn’t even tell I haven’t had (the brace) on,” Ramos said. “Coach Nick has been doing great with me, even before practice and before games now. Just getting me more comfortable going left so now the right’s not even really a factor. Although it’s my shooting hand, it’s just one of those (scenarios where) you can’t tell.”

Head coach Stacie Terry-Hutson said it took some time for Ramos, who hadn’t played in about two months, to shake off rust. 

“She was a little tentative in the first half,” Terry-Hutson said. “And then the second half, it looked like the old Sophia. She’s our best guard pushing on the break, she’s our best finisher at the rim.”

The junior guard became the 22nd player in program history to reach quadruple digits and the 13th to do it in three seasons or less. 

Ramos is the first player to reach 1,000 career points since McKynzie Fort, also a 5-foot-9 guard who achieved the mark during her junior year in 2016-17.

Despite spending most of the season on the sideline, Ramos has found other ways to help her team.

The San Antonio, Texas native is part of a leadership council within the program to encourage others to stay under control and lead by example. Ramos said she stays involved through holding her teammates accountable — especially the younger student-athletes.

“I think it is really important,” Ramos said of her role on the leadership council. “We definitely have some veterans, but we’re young. So I think it is good to have that balance for all of us on that council to be able to lead and show them by example what we need to be doing, what our focus needs to be on.”

San Diego State freshman forward Kim Villalobos (right) helps up junior guard Sophia Ramos during the Aztecs’ 80-65 loss to UNLV on Feb. 15, 2021 at Viejas Arena. (Kyle Betz)

The injury has hindered Ramos from normal playing minutes this season as seven underclassmen are listed on the Aztecs’ roster. With that in mind, Terry-Hutson has stressed leadership as a key to the program’s success in 2020-21.

That veteran leadership has helped younger student-athletes like freshman forward Kim Villalobos.

“It’s all the little things that add up — the buckets will fall, but that’s kind of just what (Ramos) says,” Villalobos said of Ramos’ leadership from the bench. “And she is really positive and she supported (us) a lot when she was hurt. I know she wanted to play every game out there but she still kept her head up, which made all of us feel good.”

With Ramos on the bench, her leadership has been compared to that of a coach. Some coaches have even called her the “fourth coach.”

San Diego State women’s basketball junior guard Sophia Ramos dribbles between her legs during the Aztecs’ 80-65 loss to UNLV on Feb. 15, 2021 at Viejas Arena. (Kyle Betz)

Ramos said leadership comes with experience and a belief toward the success of the program from a student-athlete’s perspective.

“It shows a lot of trust the staff has,” Ramos said. “Overall, it shows how much the coaches trust me. They’re aren’t going to follow whatever I say, but at least take me into consideration, whatever I might see from the players’ side of it all.”

During Ramos’ time recovering, Terry-Hutson said she still wanted her to lead and it has become beneficial through the team’s leadership council with the conference tournament three weeks away. 

“We’re still challenging her to do that,” Terry-Hutson said. “We have a leadership council on this team that she’s a part of and that group needs to challenge our team and hold them accountable so we have leaders in the locker room.

“I think it means more when it comes from your peers than it oftentimes does from your coach, so her and our leadership council is doing a good job trying to keep everybody together. I actually think they can do more, so they’re challenging each other and challenging the team. We’re just going to continue to get better every day and looking forward to getting everybody on the court.”

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