Women’s basketball getting ready for undefeated University of San Diego

by Brandon Truffa, Staff Writer

While most of San Diego State was away for the Thanksgiving holiday last week, the SDSU women’s basketball team was busy hosting its annual Thanksgiving Classic at Viejas Arena.

In the tournament the Aztecs (2-4) picked up their first two wins of the regular season, knocking off North Dakota State on Black Friday and University of Wisconsin on Sunday.

“We defended better. That’s what it really boiled down to,” head coach Stacie Terry said.

The Aztecs opened their tournament with a double-digit victory over NDSU, winning 64-54.

SDSU was led by their two sophomore guards, Lexy Thorderson and McKynzie Fort, who combined for 32 points in the victory.

For her performance throughout the tournament, Fort was named Mountain West Offensive Player of the Week.

“She’s done a great job of just being aggressive. She’s growing on both sides of the ball,” Terry said. “I think what has gone unnoticed is how much better of a defensive player she’s getting.”

Sunday saw the Aztecs pull out a gritty overtime victory against a tough Wisconsin squad.

Down 32-21 with three minutes remaining in the third quarter, the Aztecs rallied to force overtime and even took a five-point lead midway through the fourth quarter.

“I still think we should have beat them in regulation,” Terry said.  “There were some stretches down the end where we made some defensive mistakes, but what I love about this team is they were able to regroup and come down and make big shots on the other side of the floor.”

SDSU outscored the Badgers 12-6 in overtime en route to its second straight victory.

Looking to extend the winning streak to three, the Aztecs will welcome a difficult opponent to Viejas on Thursday night: crosstown rival University of San Diego.

At 6-0, the Toreros have already knocked off tough opponents this season, like University of Arizona, University of Nevada and Cal State Northridge.

USD has also scored over 80 points in four of its six games this season. The Aztecs faced a similar high-scoring opponent last week when they squared off against University of Washington.

“What I think I’m most impressed about is their ability to rebound the ball on both sides of the floor, offensively and defensively,” Terry said. “They do an excellent job of getting early rebounding position. They’ve been dominating the boards in all of their games.”

Through the first six games, the Toreros are out-rebounding their opponents 244-193 (90-63 offensively, 154-130 defensively).

Terry said the team has stressed improving its rebounding every day this week during practice.

“I think against Wisconsin we were a little exposed, and gave up way too many offensive boards and definitely didn’t win that rebound battle,” Terry said.

One player the Aztecs will have to look out for is USD senior guard Malina Hood.

Hood averages 19.8 points a contest and is a great outside shooter, shooting 48.6 percent from long range. Her 35 rebounds are also second-most on the team.

“She does a great job shooting the ball, she’s a great scorer,” Terry said.

But it’s USD’s balance that makes it difficult to beat.

“The scoring is really balanced,” Terry said. “It’s a short rotation, they play seven kids, eight kids sometimes, but they all do a great job of doing exactly what they’re supposed to do when they come into the game.”