Williams Leads Aztecs

by Staff

Sparkedby Otii, SDSU comes back on 20-5 run

Michael KlitzingAssistant Sports Editor

Before the season, there was a rumor floating around the San DiegoState women’s basketball team that Ashonda Williams could shoot alittle bit.

Consider it a fact.

The junior transfer from Contra Costa Community College nailedfour of seven three-point attempts, scoring 16 points as SDSU (1-0)toppled Cal Poly San Luis Obispo (0-1) 63-54, Friday at Cox Arena.

And for the Aztecs, it was certainly a welcome sight. After livingand dying with the shooting performance of guard Jamey Cox lastseason, SDSU hoped the addition of Williams would provide a morebalanced offensive attack. And at least for one night, the balancewas there.

“Ashonda relieves a lot of outside pressure for our team,” Aztecsforward Atim Otii said. “That really relieves a lot of pressure offof Jamey so she can really play her role as a true point guard.”

Aside from relieving pressure, Williams’ stroke from beyond thearc helped the Aztecs overcome a 26-22 halftime deficit.

“Ashonda Williams really stepped up,” head coach Barb Smith said.”When that kid gets going and has confidence, she has enough fire andspunk to ignite a team.”

Said Williams: “I didn’t shoot too much in the first half, butcoach told me to get a couple more shots up in the second half.”

Good suggestion.

Williams hit a trey for her team’s first score of the second halfand another triple in the midst of a 20-5 SDSU run that put theMustangs away.

But the second half run was also Otii’s time to come alive. Aftera slow start, the senior dominated the offensive boards and scored 14points after intermission.

The lethargic start and late surge proved to be a theme for theAztecs as a whole.

“I think we kind of rushed our offense (in the first half),” Otiisaid. “As shots weren’t falling, we got frustrated. We just needed tocalm down, and in the second half, we did a better job of that.”

But while the shots may not have been falling in the openingperiod, they were falling from the charity stripe. The Aztecs hit 20of 28 from the free throw line — certainly encouraging for Smithafter last season’s foul performance from the line.

“That’s something we’ve been talking about for the last twoweeks,” Smith said. “This was a game in which that was thedifference.”

But not all was rosy in the fundamentals department.

SDSU turned the ball over 26 times. Fortunately for the Aztecs,Cal Poly (22 turnovers) was nearly as sloppy.

“We didn’t play as smart as we could have at times,” Smith said.”The turnovers are what we have to fix.”

Rebounding also played a key role in offsetting the giveaways. Theinside presence of Otii, junior Valencia Howard and senior centerMorgan Vargas was too much for the Mustangs, who were out-rebounded45-33.

Not a surprise. SDSU has not exactly been lacking in the defensivedepartment lately — but a balanced offense?

It may be more than a rumor.