By Daniel Reedy:
It’s not the big dance, but the Spartans will need to pull out some moves to make it through the first round.
San Jose State looks to continue the season sweep of San Diego State in Game 1 of the Mountain West Tournament in Las Vegas.
Place your bets.
SJSU beat the Aztecs in San Diego 99-90 on the back of a 29-point fourth quarter in which the Spartans shot 90 percent in the final period.
Earlier in the year, the Spartans came back and won in overtime over SDSU, 81-80 in a battle of the guards.
The matchup of Spartan Dezz Ramos and the Aztecs’ McKynzie Fort headlines today’s contest.
Ramos racked up 12 assists and scored 27 points on 11-19 shooting in the 99-90 but she wasn’t nearly as efficient in the first contest with the Aztecs. Although Ramos posted 34 points, she needed 30 shots.
But she made up for her 18 misses when, in the final seconds, Ramos hit a game-winning buzzer-beater in overtime.
Fort also starred, putting up 29 points and snatching 11 rebounds.
Ramos and Fort sit atop the Mountain West leaderboard in points per game, with Ramos ahead by seven and a half.
The Spartans have struggled inside but so have the Aztecs. SJSU has the lowest defensive rebound average and SDSU sits in last in offensive rebounds. These teams are ninth and eleventh in total rebounding margin.
SJSU’s double-double machine Jasmine Smith will battle in the paint and is likely to grab the game-high in rebounds
While both teams hold middle rankings for three-point shooting, they’ve sunk to the bottom two spots in three-point defense.
The x-factor for SJSU could be senior forward Paris Baird due to her versatility. Baird was a force down low and on the perimeter in the 99-90 victory, shooting 3-6 from range and pulling down 12 boards. Baird finished the game with 16 points. Look for her to tee-off from beyond the arc against SDSU’s last-place three-point defense.
With a better record and pair of victories in the previous matchups, SJSU is the favorite, but the Aztecs are coming off back-to-back wins, each time holding opponents to just 51 points.
The clash for which team gets (has) to play first-place Colorado State in Round 2 begins at 2 p.m. in the Thomas and Mack Center in Las Vegas.