With 12.5 seconds left in the game, San Diego State women’s basketball had possession, drawing up possible opportunities in a timeout.
The Aztecs were tied at 77 against Fresno State, a team that was in second place in the Mountain West Conference standings entering Saturday.
During the timeout, head coach Stacie Terry-Hutson said they designed a couple of plays.
“We had two options,” Terry-Hutson said. “We drew it up where (junior guard Mercedes Staples) was on the ball-side elbow. If we could get the ball to Mercedes, we were going to go into her. Obviously, she hit a clutch shot late against UNLV (on Tuesday). The last piece was to go into (junior guard Sophia Ramos) and then to (senior guard Téa Adams) and off the screen from (freshman center Kamaria Gipson).”
Out of those options, the Aztecs (6-14, 4-10 MWC) went with the latter as Gipson set a strong screen so Téa Adams can make a hard drive to the bucket and score a layup with 5.3 seconds left to seal a 79-77 win.
Téa Adams, who scored the game-winning layup, had 11 points and six assists. She said her layup was in large part due to first-year assistant coach Marsha Frese, who came up with the play.
“We work really hard on our sideline out of bounds (plays) with coach Marsha,” Téa Adams said. “She draws us up a lot of good plays. Trusting in her and she knows what to do and where we need to score. Trusting in our coaching staff is really where that came from.”
Ramos said Téa Adams’ last-second shot shows her ability to step up to make timely baskets.
“She’s clutch, and she’s always been,” Ramos said. “I think it shows if players and coaches want to focus on other players, she is going to make you pay for it.”
The Aztecs’ lone senior said it was a little daunting to face a Bulldogs team (13-7, 11-4 MWC) that won the MWC regular season championship a year ago and currently has the top two scorers in the conference.
“It was a little intimidating,” Téa Adams said. “But just knowing what our team can do, we were feeling really comfortable. I’m proud of our team for showing what kind of basketball we can play.”
This was the Aztecs’ first win in about a month, when they beat Air Force at home on Jan. 22.
Despite snapping that seven-game losing streak, Terry-Hutson has not called it a losing streak.
“(It’s) a learning streak. This team has been changing slowly over the last couple weeks, getting healthier and healthier,” Terry-Hutson said.
SDSU was led by Ramos, who had 22 points and seven assists to go along with three 3-pointers — her first made buckets from beyond the arc since returning from the hand injury Monday.
Right behind Ramos, Staples had 20 points on 8-of-13 shooting. In addition, sophomore forward Mallory Adams had seven points in 25 minutes.
Terry-Hutson said this team has increased its depth with the return of Ramos and Mallory Adams.
“We’re good when (Ramos is) scoring like that and Mercedes is scoring the way she is,” Terry-Hutson said. “I thought Mallory got us off to a great start in the beginning. We’re just really deep right now. Our bench is really good and I like the team we’re coming into.”
When Ramos was recovering on the sidelines, she enjoyed watching shots fall. But when she returned, it all changed as the team’s depth expanded with Staples getting the job done consistently.
“I’m just glad I got to come back to enjoy it, but even being out was so much fun to watch,” Ramos said. “Mercedes is going to be that silent assassin. She doesn’t talk, she’s not cocky, doesn’t do any of that stuff. She’s going to make you pay, she’s going to make you know her name.”
Fresno State was led by sophomore guard Haley Cavinder, who had a game-high 27 points.
Terry-Hutson said they planned for the Bulldogs’ offense, who averages 80.2 points per game.
“We knew that they were a really good offensive team, and we knew we need to score points,” Terry Hutson said. “It wasn’t just good enough to defend. Obviously they scored over our defensive goal, but we knew we had to get into the 70s to win.”
SDSU and Fresno State meet tomorrow at 1 p.m. for the series finale and the Aztecs’ final home game of the 2020-21 season.
Ramos said the team is trying to go after the sweep as they honor Téa Adams for Senior Day.
“I think I’m speaking for everyone, we want to go out and win for Téa,” Ramos said. “It’s her last (home game) and we don’t want to send her out with a loss. Everyone can see what we’re capable of and I don’t know what it is but we had a different fight today and that’s what we’re ultimately going to do tomorrow.”