Lady Aztecs ride defense to defeat Lobos

by Ruben Meza

The two best defenses in the Mountain West Conference battled it out last night, but only the San Diego State women’s basketball team lived up to its name.

Before the conference-matchup, the New Mexico Lobos led the conference in least amount of points allowed per game with 54.6. Right behind them was SDSU, allowing just 54.8. The anticipated showdown quickly became lopsided as the Aztecs showed they never just rely on their defense, but their overall balance on both sides of the ball. SDSU (13-4, MW 3-0) defeated the Lobos 77-47 in Viejas Arena, the most points a team has scored against UNM all season.

Junior guard Courtney Clements, who leads the conference in points per game, scored 19 points, grabbed four rebounds and contributed three of the Aztecs 15 total steals in the victory.

“I knew I had to play well in order for us to win,” Clements said. “I go as hard as I can and just hope that everyone else will follow.”

The team did exactly that. SDSU had one of its best scoring performances this season making 31 of its 60 field goal attempts, landing four Aztecs in double-figures.

On offense, junior guard Chelsea Hopkins, recipient of last week’s MW Co-Player of the Week, pushed the pace distributing the ball all around the Lobos’ zone defense. This opened up the arc on many occasions, helping SDSU shoot 9-18 from the three-point range.

Junior center Malia Nahinu got many touches early on with a clear height advantage, finishing the game with an efficient 14 points on 7-10 shooting.

With the entire team having solid offensive showings right off the bat, the Aztecs opened the game by sparking a 22-9 run in the first half, stretching the score to 40-23 at halftime.

The Lobos’ (6-11, MW 0-3) slow tempo offense, however, walked right into head coach Beth Burns’ hands with her stifling full-court press defense.

“Defense is hard work, we give it a lot of glory on this team,” Burns said.

With the victory, SDSU extended its winning streak to nine games (its longest in 15 years), improved its record in Viejas Arena to 8-1 and became the only Mountain West team undefeated in conference play (3-0).

The Aztecs are set to go on the road to take on Air Force (5-13, MW 0-3) this Saturday at 11 am in Arena Auditorium.