SDSU women’s basketball falls to New Mexico on emotional senior night, 64-45

by Brandon Truffa, Senior Staff Writer

The setting was emotional and bittersweet prior to the start of Tuesday night’s women’s basketball game between the San Diego State Aztecs and the University of New Mexico Lobos.

For the final home game of the season, the Aztecs honored the team’s two seniors: forward Deidra Smith and guard Ahjalee Harvey, but the ending was more bitter than sweet as the Aztecs lost, 64-45.

Both Smith and Harvey spoke about the difficulties of not letting the emotions of the pregame ceremonies get the best of you.

“It’s crazy because I didn’t think I’d get emotional because I’ve seen so many senior nights,” Smith said. “For you to actually be in those shoes, it’s kind of crazy. You just look back on everything.”

“It’s hard,” Harvey said. “There’s a lot going on, reflecting on your whole entire career, while also trying to focus.”

SDSU head coach Stacie Terry was also emotional before and after the game when speaking about how much Smith and Harvey have contributed to the program over the past four years.

“They both have really taken their game to another level this season, and they both have become leaders worth following,” Terry said. “They’ve given everything to this team and sacrificed a lot for us to be successful.”

Three weeks ago, the Aztecs defeated the Lobos in Albuquerque, New Mexico. But on Tuesday, the Lobos jumped out to an early lead and didn’t look back.

The first quarter saw New Mexico jump out to a 17-6 lead, shooting 3 for 4 from 3-point range, while the Aztecs struggled, only going 2 for 11 from the field.

SDSU improved its shooting in the second quarter, however it found itself down 32-18 heading into the intermission.

Coming out of the locker room, the Aztecs jumped out to a lightning-fast start to open the second half, forcing the Lobos to use an early timeout after a few forced turnovers.

But throughout the frame SDSU was plagued by traveling calls, racking up a total of three in the third quarter. Meanwhile, a strong shooting effort from the Lobos pushed the Aztec’s deficit to 20. New Mexico shot 50 percent from long range in the third frame and scored 21 points.

In the fourth quarter, New Mexico put the game in cruise control and coasted to the victory.

The Lobos were carried by sophomore guard Cherise Beynon, who finished going 8 for 14 from the field and 4 for 6 from 3-point land.

That equaled 20 points, five rebounds and three assists.

“They made shots when they needed to,” Terry said. “They took advantage of us not only knocking down the 3-ball, but then also scoring early and often in the paint.”

Leading the Aztecs was sophomore guard McKynzie Fort. Fort had 11 points, four rebounds and one assist.

“We didn’t have that same tenacity, we didn’t go into the game with the same mindset that we did when we first played them,” Harvey said. “I think it kind of was just a ripple effect.”

Terry also said even though SDSU struggled at getting its shots to fall, its inability to defend ultimately led to the defeat.

“You’re not always going to be good on the offensive end, but you’ve got to be better on the defensive end,” Terry said.

The loss extends SDSU’s recent skid to two games, however it still holds the eighth seed heading into next week’s Mountain West Tournament.

The Aztecs will head to UNLV this Friday for their season finale.

“We need a five-game winning streak,” Terry said. “We need to go in and get this win at UNLV, and then obviously four is what it will take to win a conference championship.”