By Daniel Reedy:
A .500 record is within reach.
After handing San Diego State it’s fifth consecutive loss, the San Jose State Spartans will host the visiting University of Nevada, Las Vegas Runnin’ Rebels this afternoon.
About a month from the Mountain West tournament, the Spartans (8-15) are 5-6 in conference play and have the opportunity to remodel the Mountain West standings with back-to-back home games against 7-5 opponents (they play Fresno State on Wednesday).
Guard Dezz Ramos is back on track after dropping 27 points on Wednesday against SDSU. Ramos still leads the MW in scoring by almost eight points per game, even after a dismal game against New Mexico in which she went 1-8 from three-point range.
Ramos’ prowess is no secret, but neither is UNLV’s rebounding ability. The Rebels lead the conference in rebound margin at plus-5.9.
The Spartans, meanwhile, sit dead last at minus-8.8.
This was illustrated in the teams’ last matchup. Ramos posted 28 points and UNLV out-rebounded the Spartans, 53-34.
SJSU has relied on Paris Baird and Jasmine Smith for rebounding all season long and the pair will have to do well inside against the conference’s best rebounding team.
UNLV doesn’t have a top-five rebounder such as Smith (no. 4) but the Rebels have four players in the top-14 in the conference. After Smith, the Spartans next highest rebounder is Baird who is no. 16.
No. 18 on that same list might be a surprise. Scrappy guard Myzhanique Ladd makes up for a lack of height with tenaciousness under the hoop. Her quickness and desire for the basketball allow her to win the fight against bigger players inside.
SJSU scored its second highest point total (highest for an away game) of the season against SDSU and will hope the offense clicks in similar fashion today.
With four players in double figures, Ramos had plenty of help. Baird shot 3-6 from downtown on her way to 16 points in addition to her 12 boards. Smith finished with only six rebounds, but scored 14 points on an efficient 7-10 shooting from the field. Ladd rounded out the double-digit scorers, draining both her three-point attempts.
The Spartans’ top-five scorers this season are each of their starters (according to SJSU athletics) but they got 22 points against SDSU from outside the first five.
“Everyone contributed off the bench,” said head coach Jamie Craighead. “We’ve been telling our bench that we need more production, and they’re going to be key to our run.”
Still, as has been the case for the past season and a half, a substantial portion of the offense is generated through Ramos.
The Rebels meanwhile, have three players that average double-digit scoring, including instagram model Dakota Gonzalez. Her sister Dylan is almost a fourth, averaging 9.8 PPG.
UNLV enters the game 2-1 since losing at home to the Spartans.
Tip off is at 2 p.m. as the Spartans hope to sweep the series against the Runnin’ Rebels.