Aztecs Hit Stride Over Winter Break

by Staff

By Jared QuientSenior Staff Writer

The biggest problem that faced San Diego State’s women’sbasketball team last year was its lack of depth. With nine playersnow averaging more than 15 minutes a game, that problem hastransformed into a strength.

And they just got deeper.

Two weeks ago, it was announced that junior college transferCarmen Gonzalez has been cleared for competition and has formallyjoined the team.

“We are very happy to have Carmen join our team,” said head coachBarb Smith. “She brings tremendous work ethic, speed, maturity and adesire to win to our program.”

Gonzalez is no stranger to San Diego. Following her three years ofservice in the United States Army, the junior guard began her collegebasketball career, leading Southwestern College to a 17-11 record inher freshman season.

SDSU surges above .500 mark with hotplay

Before the students of SDSU left for winter break, things lookedbleak for the Aztecs. Yet after opening the year 3-5, SDSU has runoff seven wins in its last nine games. This impressive play wasexemplified in a six-game win streak that carried over intoconference season.

It was in this string that the Aztecs picked up much needed roadvictories at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo and Texas Corpus-Christi.

The streak culminated with SDSU opening its conference season witha 63-61 victory against rival BYU. In doing so, the Aztecs redeemedthemselves against a team that had beaten them by an average of 30points in its previous two games.

It was also the first time in the Barb Smith era that SDSU openedits conference schedule with a win.

“The thing about conference is that everybody knows everybodyelse,” Smith said. “This makes it more difficult to win on the road,and it makes winning at home that much more important.”

The Aztecs remained home to face nationally ranked Utah in frontof the largest home crowd of the season. It was against the No. 25Utes that the six-game win streak came to an halt, as SDSU wasdefeated 56-47. Despite the defeat, the optimism surrounding the teamis apparent.

Said Smith: “We are pretty close to where we want to be. “We arenot there yet, but we are on the right track.”

Following the home loss, the Aztecs opened up the road portion ofits conference schedule, beating Air Force 50-49. The game featured anine-point comeback, highlighted by Tanisha Knight’s game-winningjumper with 23 seconds left.

“They left me open,” said Knight after her last second heroics.”They shouldn’t have done that.”

THIS WEEKEND

Who: San Diego State (10-6, 2-2 Mountain West

Conference) vs. UNLV (11-4, 1-2)

When: Saturday, 7 p.m.

Where: Cox Arena

Last Year: SDSU and UNLV split last season’s meetings, withboth teams winning on its home floor.

Aztecs Update: Forward Tanisha Knight is leading SDSU in scoringwith 11.2 points a game, but her touch has been off in conferenceplay. Through the first two MWC games, Knight is averaging just underfour points a game. But the play of guard Jamey Cox and the return ofsenior Sophia Sledge have helped neutralize Knight’s cool hand. Coxis scoring nearly 11 points a game and Sledge’s return has broughtmore senior leadership to the floor.

Rebels Update: UNLV has been blown out in both of its conferencelosses, including a 28-point defeat in their last outing at NewMexico on Jan. 18. In fact, UNLV has only played four of its 15 gameson the road this season. Forward Linda Frohlich is leading the Rebelsin scoring (18.7) and rebounding (7.8). She is one of the bestplayers in the conference and her preseason all-MWC selection hasbeen validated so far. UNLV is averaging a staggering nine steals agame, so look for its defense to create some easy baskets.

–Brian Montgomery