By Daniel Reedy:
From the opening minutes, the Spartans’ seniors destroyed their SoCal rivals.
San Jose State opened the game on a 16-2 run, leading to a 76-58 blowout of the San Diego Aztecs in Game 1 of the Mountain West Tournament.
It wasn’t even close; the Spartans led by at least 20 points for the majority of the fourth quarter.
“We’ve had some great battles this year with San Diego State,” said Spartans’ head coach Jamie Craighead. “And I thought we took a defensive game plan and really executed.”
The SJSU defense was undoubtedly outstanding, giving up its lowest point total away from the Event Center this season.
The Aztecs shot just 35 percent from the field and was buried by a nine-point first quarter.
Dezz Ramos — who many believe was snubbed for Player of the Year — stepped up again, scoring 34 points to go with five assists and three steals. In her three games against SDSU this season, she scored an average of 31.7 points per contest.
Ramos easily won the battle of the guards as SDSU’s McKynzie Fort barely scored half (19) the points Ramos posted.
With multiple double-digit runs, the Aztecs just couldn’t keep up.
“We knew with San Jose State, obviously being the third time we played them, they score in bunches,” said Aztec head coach Stacie Terry.
Many of those “bunches” were captained by Ramos but she wasn’t alone.
Senior forward Jasmine Smith was again a force inside with yet another double-double, finishing with 14 points and 10 rebounds.
“[Referring to a game plan to work the ball in to Smith ] I thought we did that effectively tonight,” Smith said. “My shooters were there to shoot the ball when I was inside and ready to score and I did so.”
Senior guard Rachel West opened the game draining three splashes from beyond the arc. She did not score the rest of the game, but those nine points were crucial in building the lead that would not be relinquished the entire game.
Forward Paris Baird — the fourth of the graduating class — wasn’t at her best from three-point range (1-5) but pulled down six rebounds, swiped three steals and swatted down an Aztec lay-up. Baird made a highlight-reel play however, catching a pass on the run by the left baseline, then taking the ball under the hoop and reversing it on the right side of the basket.
SDSU heads home, unable to beat the Spartans in three contests this season. However, the Aztecs may return stronger next season as Fort is among the returning players.
The Cinderella Story stage is set as the Spartans will take on first-seed Colorado State led by the Mountain West Conference’s startling choice for Player of the Year Ellen Nystrom, now a two-time winner.
Tip-off is at noon at the Thomas and Mack Center.