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The Aztecs had nine three-pointers in the first half


Photo: McKynzie Fort courtesy

January 4, 2017 (San Diego) - Behind an outstanding first half in which the Aztecs scored nine 3-pointers, the most in a half since 2005, and 52 points, San Diego State women’s basketball clawed its way past Nevada, 83-78, in its Mountain West debut at Viejas Arena Wednesday night.

San Diego State’s nine field goals in the first half from beyond the 3-point arc were its most in a half since Feb. 10, 2005, when the Aztecs topped Utah Valley State College, 91-45. Additionally, the Scarlet and Black got 21 assists, a season high and its most since a Feb. 10, 2016 overtime win against Fresno State.

With the win, San Diego State moves to 1-1 in Mountain West play and is now 6-7 overall. Nevada, meanwhile, is 0-3 against conference foes and is 6-8 this season.

“This game was fun,” junior Khalia Lark said. “Obviously, we struggled at New Mexico but we watched a lot of film after that. Our emphasis tonight was to take our opportunities to attack downhill and get shots, and we did that. When everyone is playing well, it’s so much fun to play. It’s a domino effect where everyone is hyped up and ready to go.”

Lark led the team with a career-high 22 points, just the second Aztec this season to score 20-or-more points in a game, alongside team-leading scorer McKynzie Fort. The Irvine, Calif., native added a team-best six boards and one assist. Fort, meanwhile, finished the game matching a career best with six assists and recorded 17 points, as well as a pair each of rebounds and steals. Ariell Bostick and Geena Gomez each notched five helpers, and Lexy Thorderson was 5-for-9 from 3-point range, a career high.

The Aztecs’ first half was one to remember. The team scored a season-best 52 points after 20 minutes of play, its highest point total in a first half since the 2014-15 season opener against Sacramento State, and knocked down nine 3-pointers, more than its total in 11 games this year. Thorderson finished the half by going 4-for-6 from 3-point range for 12 points, while Lark was 6-for-8 from the floor for 17 points.

The first quarter set the tone for San Diego State, as the Aztecs scored 32 points for their highest point total in a single frame this year and knocked down six shots from beyond the 3-point arc.

Falling behind, 8-3, just under two minutes into the game, the Aztecs proceeded to go on an 11-0 run. With a 16-12 margin in hand, the Scarlet and Black went on a second 11-0 run midway through the first quarter, with Kymberly Ellison’s pair of good free throws kicking off the rally. Lark then dropped in a pair of 3-pointers, followed by a three by Thorderson.

After allowing four points by the Wolf Pack, the Aztecs ended the frame by narrowly edging Nevada, 5-4, for the 32-20 score after 10 minutes.

“We have kids that really put in the time to work on their shot,” said head coach Stacie Terry. “I was happy for them to see their hard work pay off. I was enjoying it; I became a fan at that point because I knew they were going in when they left their hands.”

The Aztecs eased off the pedal in the second quarter, but still managed to out-score Nevada, 20-15. Gomez posted 10 points in the frame on her own while Lark tacked on seven points for a first-half point total of 17 points.

San Diego State struggled defensively in the third quarter, as Nevada won the quarter 26-17 and was unable to generate a strong offensive presence in the fourth quarter, as the team was outscored 17-14. Despite the Wolfpack notching 43 points in the second half to the Aztecs’ 31, SDSU’s outstanding first half was enough to win the game for the final 83-78 victory.

For the game, San Diego State shot 50 percent (31 for 62) from the floor and was 10-for-21 (47.6 percent) from 3-point range. Nevada shot 41.8 percent (28 for 67), with nine of its 20 attempts coming from beyond the arc. San Diego State had 10 turnovers, its second-fewest this season (eight against UC Santa Barbara), as compared to the Wolfpack’s 13 turnovers.

“Any time you shoot like this, you give yourself a chance to win, and this is a team that has potential to put up 80 points every time we step on the floor,” Terry said. “We have shooters at numerous positions now. Our goal is always to score over 80 points; this is something we’re striving to do every game, and we’re capable of doing this.”

The Scarlet and Black continues its home swing with Saturday afternoon contest against Boise State on Jan. 7 at 2 p.m. against Boise State. 

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