By Mohamed Bafakih (@MohamedABafa ):
San Jose State saw a huge drop on the offensive end following its 95-point outpouring against New Mexico as missed opportunities at the rim tormented its production in the 75-65 loss against San Diego State.
Despite SJSU (5-11, 2-3 MW) outscoring SDSU (8-7, 2-2 MW) in the paint, the Aztecs took advantage of the Spartans’ missed layups Wednesday night at the Event Center.
“Our staff counted, as we go, 17 missed layups,” said head coach Jamie Craighead. “And there were probably more than that, but for us, we’re talking about wide-open layups. We just couldn’t get them to go and that’s frustrating.”
Coming off a game where they were knocking down 3-pointers like layups, the Spartans took a season-high 81 shot attempts and made 24 of them to finish 29 percent from the field.
SDSU’s ability to guard the perimeter also held SJSU to 5-for-23 shooting from outside.
“They [Aztecs] stayed out, but that’s why there were all those driving lanes… we don’t have to hit 3s, we can just make layups,” Craighead said.
The Spartans took advantage of the lanes early as 12 of the 15 first quarter points came from the paint or drawing fouls inside to get in the bonus quickly.
Trailing 20-15 after the opening period, the Spartans defense couldn’t find an answer for SDSU’s Geena Gomez.
The senior guard helped push the Aztecs’ lead from 34-30 to 46-35 in the last 3:23 of the first half.
She scored the team’s final 11 points during the 12-5 run as part of SDSU’s 76-percent shooting quarter and finished with a game-high 21 points on 8-for-15 shooting.
“Gomez kinda had our number all night, I thought,” Craighead siad. “She was 6-for-8 at halftime and just didn’t think we did a good job of guarding her.”
Gomez came in as the Aztecs’ third-leading scorer at 8.6 points per game, behind Naje Murray and McKynzie Fort.
Fort, who is the Mountain West’s second-leading scorer, also finished 8-of-15 from the field as her 19 points, nine rebounds and seven assists gave SDSU a well-rounded attack.
Trailing 65-51 midway through the fourth quarter, SJSU went on a 9-1 run to cut it to a two-possession game with 1:36 left in regulation. The Aztecs would hang on from the free-throw line where they were 15-of-21 for the night.
The Spartans will next travel to Colorado to face Air Force (0-15, 0-4 MW) on Jan. 13.