Aztecs’ fourth quarter comeback tops Tritons, streak snapped in San Francisco

Prohaska pours in a career-high 23 points at UCSD, SDSU dropped by Dons in Chase Center matinee

Sophomore Asia Avinger dribbles up the court during a game last season.

Photo Courtesy of SDSU Athletics

Sophomore Asia Avinger dribbles up the court during a game last season.

by Eric Evelhoch, Staff Writer

Senior Abby Prohaska stood near midcourt with a confident semi-smirk, shrugging as teammates rushed to join her while UC San Diego desperately signaled for timeout.

The guard’s steal then transition feed for a layup by fellow senior Mercedes Staples made the moment, highlighting a 10-0 run to end the game as SDSU rallied to top the host Tritons 72-60 on Thursday night, at LionTree Arena.

Down by four entering the fourth quarter, the Aztecs outscored UCSD 26-10 to close out their seventh straight win. Prohaska scored 9 of her 23 points in the final frame, netting both the team’s individual season high as well as her career best.

Four players finished in double digits for SDSU, with senior Sophia Ramos scoring 12 and junior Kim Villalobos adding 10. Sophomore Asia Avinger returned to the lineup for the first time since Nov. 15, scoring 10 and dishing a game-high six assists.

Hot shooting from beyond the arc boosted the hosts in the opening half, as UCSD made 6-of-11 from three. The Tritons led by as much as 11 points at the 4:03 mark of the second quarter.

Sophomore guard Izzy Forsyth came off the bench to score 15, and senior guard-forward Sydney Brown also scored 15 while rounding up nine rebounds for the hosts.

San Diego State’s defense dialed up the pressure after halftime, swiping 7 of their 10 steals for the game. It also helped hold the Tritons to 21.4% shooting from the field, including 0 for 12 from downtown in the last 20 minutes. 

Still, the homesiders were able to maintain the lead through the third quarter.

To start the fourth Prohaska knocked down back to back jumpers, tying the game at 53-53 with a triple. Then after a rebound she fed sophomore Khylee Pepe for a transition bucket at 7:49 to put SDSU ahead for the first time in the game.

It was part of a 9-0 run that shifted momentum, and though UC San Diego would respond to pull within one, the Aztecs kept the lead the rest of the way.

On Sunday against the University of San Francisco, SDSU traded the lead seven times and were tied 10 but the Dons pulled away late in a 65-56 loss at the Chase Center.

Staples scored a team-high 13 points with game-highs of nine rebounds and four assists, while Avinger added 12 points as SDSU saw their winning streak snapped.

The difference makers came off the bench for USF, as senior guard Kennedy Gayles scored 19 points and redshirt-sophomore forward Debora dos Santos notched 15 points. The Dons reserves outscored the Aztecs 42-16.

Trailing by two at the beginning of the fourth, SDSU drew even twice in the opening 1:33 on a driving score by Avinger and then a Prohaska jumper. Later the Aztecs would get as close as 57-56 with 2:30 to play, but missed their final three shots from the field.

All the while, San Francisco sank 7 of 12 shots in the quarter and finished the game on an 8-0 run to seal the result.

SDSU returns to Viejas Arena to face Sacramento State at 11 a.m. on Wednesday, Dec. 7. The final Aztecs home game of the 2022 calendar year will see University of San Diego come across town for a 1 p.m. tip on Saturday, Dec. 10.