Veteran Aztecs prepared for MWC run

by Eli Baldrige

Senior center Paris Johnson and senior guard Coco Davis have been to the Mountain West Conference Championship game every year since coming to San Diego State.

“We can’t say we expect to make it to the championship game,” Davis said. “But this year we know anyone can beat anyone.”

“We know we’re capable of making it to the championship,” Johnson added.

The sixth-seeded SDSU women’s basketball team will start its MWC Championship run tonight when it plays seventh-seeded New Mexico in Las Vegas. The Aztecs closed out a streaky season with three straight losses, but swept New Mexico in the regular season.

“I don’t know if I’m more nervous because we’ve beaten (New Mexico) twice, or I’d be more nervous if we haven’t beat them,” head coach Beth Burns said.

The winner tonight will play third-seeded Wyoming tomorrow and the winner of that game will play second-seeded TCU in the semifinals on Friday in the new double-bye format.

Burns believes the MWC Tournament is wide open.

“It’s been a really unique season to have six of the conference’s nine teams with losing records,” Burns said. “This year, outside of BYU, I don’t think anyone is untouchable.”

The good news for SDSU is it has had recent success in March. Last year, the Aztecs won the MWC Championship. Led by current WNBA player Jené Morris, SDSU, a three seed, beat Wyoming in the quarterfinals, second-seeded BYU in the semifinals and defeated fourth-seeded Utah in the championship game to earn an auto bid to the NCAA Tournament.

The Aztecs continued their hot streak in the NCAA tournament by upsetting Texas, a three seed, in the first round in what was a virtual home game for the Longhorns. After another upset win against West Virginia, SDSU’s tournament run finally ended with a loss to Duke in the Sweet 16.

“We have as much or more tournament experience as anyone in the conference,” Burns said.

Johnson and Davis will try to do what they did their freshman year at SDSU, when they made significant contributions to the Aztecs in the championship game as a six seed.

This time, however, they want to win that game.

“We want to make it all the way to Saturday,” Johnson said. “And we’re going to play hard.”

Davis added, “We believe we can win the championship.”