Third-seeded San Diego State overcame an 8-point deficit late in the game to force overtime and eventually defeat fourth-seeded Utah 70-60 in the women’s championship game at the Mountain West Conference tournament at the Thomas & Mack Center.
The Lady Aztecs closed the game on a 10-2 run, including two fast break layups from Jene Morris.
“When it was winning time and money time, they understood what they needed to do,” San Diego State coach Beth Burns said.
San Diego State was able to hold Utah without a field goal for the last 5:29 of regulation and throughout the entire overtime.
The Lady Aztecs outscored Utah 12-2 in the extra session to win going away.
Utah guard Kalee Whipple said the lack of offense was caused by struggles in other areas.
“They were getting rebounds at the wrong times and they were knocking down shots,“ she said. “It led to us getting kind of frustrated at times. We still fought hard, we just didn’t hit a shot.”
Janita Badon had a breakway with about four minutes remaining, but couldn’t convert the layup that would have put the Lady Utes up 58-50.
It completely changed the momentum in the game and largely spurred the comeback.
“That was the buster,” Utah coach Elaine Elliott said. “Put the word in front of that you want.”
Morris had 21 points and six assists for San Diego State. Quenese Davis had a game-high 22 points and six assists, for a Lady Aztec team that made nearly 55 percent of its shots from the field.
Taryn Wicijowski had 19 points and seven rebounds for Utah. Whipple had 15 points, but was just 5 of 22 from the field and made just one field goal after halftime.
San Diego State took advantage of its athleticism, outscoring Utah 16-4 on fast break points and 19-10 off of turnovers.
The Lady Aztecs also dominated the paint, outscoring Utah 46-24 in the lane.
Each team in the championship game had two representatives on the all-tournament team.
Quenese Davis and Jene Morris were each selected from San Diego State, along with Kalee Whipple and Taryn Wicijowski from the Lady Utes.
Hillary Carlson of Wyoming was also named to the team.
Davis was the most valuable player.
No sign of nerves
If the San Diego State men’s team is nervous about its championship game against UNLV, the players are showing no signs of it.
The entire team found a spot to sit together in the stands at the Thomas & Mack Center to cheer on the Lady Aztecs in their game against Utah.
The players were really into it, bouncing up and down and screaming for entire defensive possessions.
San Diego State doesn’t have great fan support, but it does have a really good student section at basketball games and the players have obviously taken notes.
They even imitated the screeching yell that often comes from the Aztecs student section.
There was one exception.
Kawhi Leonard simply would not participate in the shenanigans.
He sat calmly next to his teammates without so much as smiling as the others were carrying on and laughing.
If a convoy was heading up I-15 with fans from San Diego hoping to catch a championship doubleheader, it hasn’t arrived yet.
Aztecs fans had a chance to watch both of their basketball teams play for conference titles and automatic NCAA bids.
San Diego State hasn’t been very well represented the first few days of the tournament and there certainly wasn’t a large influx of fans for the women’s game.
Maybe they will make it in time for the men’s game at 4 p.m., but it’s not very likely.
Third-seeded UNLV and No. 4 San Diego State will play for the men’s title, a day after each team knocked off a nationally-ranked team in the semifinals.
The Aztecs will look to continue their hot shooting. It has been an area of concern for San Diego State all season, but the team was great from both the 3-point line and foul line in the upset of New Mexico yesterday.
The Rebels watched leading scorer Tre’Von Willis go down with an ankle injury late in their win over BYU last night, but the junior guard did return to key the victory in the final minute.
UNLV has won six games in a row, but was defeated soundly in San Diego