Tuesday, April 7th, 2020

Ayzhiana Basallo helps lift San Jose State over UNLV, 62-60, Spartans stay strong at No. 2 in MW

Published on January 16, 2020

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SJSU’s Ayzhiana Basallo

SAN JOSE, Calif. – The San Jose State Spartans (12-6, 6-1 Mountain West) solidified their second-place position in the MW conference standings with a hard-fought 62-60 win over the UNLV Lady Rebels (8-9, 4-2) Wednesday night at the Provident Credit Union Event Center.

The victory gives SJSU its best start in conference play since the 1978-79 season. The Spartans also broke UNLV’s five-game winning streak.

After a low scoring first quarter, the teams heated up for a back and forth battle. UNLV won the tip, but the Spartans found themselves with the possession after a held ball that went their way. The home team scored first with a free throw from sophomore guard Raziya Potter. Senior guard Latecia Smith led UNLV early on and she ended the quarter with a 3-point jumper that gave the Lady Rebels a 13-12 advantage heading into the second period.

SJSU outscored UNLV 21-18 in the second frame in an intense battle as the teams traded baskets furiously. With the game tied at 19 with 6:30 left in the quarter, officials penalized the Spartans with an administrative technical because there were too many players on the floor at one point.

UNLV gained some momentum when sophomore guard Justice Ethridge made both awarded technical free throws. The Lady Rebels earned their biggest lead of the game, 29-23, in the second quarter. However, after getting ahead by six, SJSU roared back and closed out the period with a 10-2 run. Senior guard Fieme’a Hafoka provided the offensive spark. She scored five straight points with less than a minute to go before the half for SJSU and the Spartans went into the break leading 33-31.

UNLV outperformed SJSU in the third quarter on the strength of offense from Smith who scored eight points in the quarter and senior center Rodjanae Wade, who added six points. The Lady Rebels looked to carry their momentum into the fourth quarter as they led 54-50 with ten minutes to go.

However, the Spartans had other plans, especially sophomore guard Ayzhiana Basallo. She put her team over the top late in the game with six straight points including a jumper at the buzzer. Basallo, who is used to shooting in tight situations with the game on the line credits her team’s resiliency down the stretch for the win.

“We really learned to grind it out till the end, forty minutes of play. Every minute counts, every second, every possession and we just push through every game.”

In a season where SJSU was picked last in the preseason poll, the Spartans are turning heads in the league. However, Basallo and her teammates are not surprised by their success so far.

“We just know that whatever team plays San Jose State, it’s gonna be tough game,” she said.

Associate head coach Alle Moreno echoed Basallo’s sentiments when discussing the end of the game heroics.

“We made big stops and got big rebounds,” Moreno said. “The girls buckled down in the fourth quarter and communicated well. Our ball screen defense was sharp, and we were grabbing rebounds with reckless abandon.”

Basallo finished with 17 points plus four assists. Junior forward Tyra Whitehead scored 13 points and pulled down four rebounds. Potter was also in double figures with ten points.

Three players scored in double digits for UNLV. Smith led her team with 17 points. Sophomore guard Justice Ethridge earned 14 points while Wade added a double-double of 12 points plus 13 rebounds.

The Lady Rebels stay on the road with a contest against New Mexico on Saturday. SJSU stays home to host New Mexico next Wednesday, Jan. 22.


 

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