Recipe for Aztec victory: Defense

by Staff

Aztecs forward Shaneya Harris lays in a bucket for two of her 18 points on the night.

Some good old home cookin’ always does a team good when it’s coming off a long road trip. On Thursday night, the San Diego State women’s basketball team found the right recipe, downing the Fresno State Bulldogs 70-41 in front of 715 loud fans at Peterson Gym.

“It was great to be home,” Aztecs head coach Beth Burns said. “We were on the road forever, but we were able to get into our comfort zone tonight.”

The recipe for the SDSU victory: tenacious defense and a sharpshooting offense. The Aztecs (13-6; 8-1 Western Athletic Conference) used both tools, as well as a boisterous home crowd happy to watch SDSU pummel the Bulldogs (11-7; 4-4 WAC).

“It was a good defensive night for us,” Aztecs forward Shaneya Harris said. “It was key for us tonight to play tremendous defense.”

That they did.

While SDSU was shooting 60 percent from the floor in the first half, FSU was unable to find the basket, sinking just five shots for the half and shooting a dismal 22 percent. The second half was no better for the Bulldogs, where they shot an equally horrible 36 percent.

“I thought our defense was excellent in the first half,” Burns said. “We were in passing lanes and shutting down their shooting attempts.”

The Aztecs were able to jump out to a 22-point lead with time running down in the first half, but sloppy play kept FSU closer than it should have been.

“The sloppiness was reflective of our lack of practice,” Burns said. “I gave them the day off on Monday, so our timing was a little off.”

Near the end of the first half, the steam was temporarily taken out of the Bulldogs when FSU coach Linda Wunder was ejected from the game. The ejection kicked the Bulldogs when they were down, and SDSU was able to run off an 8-1 run and finish the first half leading 41-19.

“We were very sharp in the first half,” Burns said. “We really dictated what happened in the first half.”

Yet if the Aztecs thought FSU was going to mail it in after the second half, they were wrong. As halftime ended and play began, the Bulldogs were able to start a run, and by the time Burns called a timeout, FSU had closed the lead to 41-24 and taken some of the wind out of the women from Montezuma Mesa.

“We just needed to talk more,” SDSU forward Jodi Nowlin-Tres said. “We weren’t producing and we were getting caught up in their offense, but we began producing after the timeout.”

Production produced victory for the Aztecs down the stretch. With seven minutes left in the game and leading 54-37, SDSU ripped off a 16-4 run, which guaranteed its 70-41 victory.

Offensively, the Aztecs were lead by Nowlin-Tres and Harris. Nowlin-Tres, the senior from Grand Junction, Colo., hit on 11 of her 19 shots and two of her three 3-point attempts, collecting 25 points for the game. Harris, the junior from Granada Hills, Calif., hit on seven of 12 shots and drained her only three-pointer of the night. She finished with 18 points.

“We shot well tonight,” Burns said. “We have a lot of good shooters on the team, and tonight was reflective of their talent.”

With the shots falling and the defense playing one of its best games of the season, SDSU was able to capture yet another conference victory and start off a successful home stand.