WOMEN’S BASKETBALL: Well-rested SDSU squad rolls the Waves

by Staff

The San Diego State women’s basketball team improved its record to 3-4 with the win. Peter Kluch / Staff Photographer

By Eli Baldrige, Staff Writer

The rest paid off for the San Diego State women’s basketball team.

After a rare weeklong break in its schedule, SDSU (3-4) played its best game of the season and beat Pepperdine (5-5) 75-61 in Malibu on Tuesday.  Three Aztecs had career highs, and the team scored its highest total this season.

“I knew we’d be better in December than November, and we’ll only continue to get better,” head coach Beth Burns said to goaztecs.com.

And the Aztecs are better in December. Senior guard Coco Davis recorded her first career double-double with 14 points and 10 assists. Davis struggled shooting the ball this season, but found her touch and shot 50 percent from the floor against the Waves.

Davis wasn’t the only senior with a double-double. Forward Jessika Bradley scored a career high in points with 16 and ripped down 10 rebounds.

In the first half, SDSU dominated down low.  After Pepperdine took a 2-0 lead to start the game, the Aztecs pounded the ball in the paint, where they outscored the Waves 16-4 in the first half, and did not trail the rest of the game.

At times, SDSU had difficulties breaking Pepperdine’s full court press, but soon figured it out and got several buckets on the fast break.  The Aztecs led by six at the half.

After the break, SDSU continued to roll. Even with the Aztecs’ star center Paris Johnson, who finished with 16 points, in foul trouble, bench players were able to fill in beautifully. Junior center Kalena Tutt came off the bench and didn’t miss a shot all game. She finished with 11 points.

“Kalena has been great and we’re very comfortable with our bigs lineup,” Burns said. “She plays starter minutes, and she gives us a lot of options.”

SDSU went up as much as 21 points in the second half, but a late run from the Waves with the Aztec starters on the bench ended the game with only a 14-point victory for SDSU.

The offense was the most efficient it has been all season, but Burns gave credit for the win to the defense.  Defensively, the Aztecs held Pepperdine to 27 percent shooting.  Tight defense from Davis and freshman guard Melissa Sweat forced the Waves star guard Jazmine Jackson to shoot a dismal 3-for-13 from the field.

“I’m really pleased with our defense,” Burns said. “We didn’t have the speed to keep up with them, but we had an advantage inside and we adjusted. These games (USD and Pepperdine) have been won because of our defense, but we saw our offense improve tonight.

“Now we’ll have some time to rest and get better and we’ll get back at it in 10 days.”