Women win UNLV Tourney



SDSU women’s basketball cruised into the championship game of the UNLV Tournament with a 55-42 victory over Northern Illinois on Saturday.

Northern Illinois led by three early in the first half, but from then on it was SDSU’s game as the Jackrabbits raced out to a 31-18 halftime lead.

Much like their last game against Sam Houston State, the Jackrabbits allowed this game to look closer than it actually was. The Jacks manufactured a 29-point lead, starting the second half on an 18-0 run, before allowing the Huskies to finish on a 22-6 run.

“It wasn’t like it was any one thing that just went south,” said head coach Aaron Johnston. “It was just a combination of a lot of little things. I do think we lose a little bit of our focus and intensity and that’s not intentional. Players certainly aren’t trying to do that. It’s not their wish at all, but it just comes with experience a little bit and learning how to play in those moments and I think we’ll play better. The nice thing is you get to that point [where you’re up big].”

Chynna Stevens finished with a game-high 13 points along with six rebounds. Kerri Young also finished in double figures with 12 points and a game-high six assists.

Reaching double figures for the Huskies was freshman guard Kelly Smith who finished with 12 points and three boards. Teammate Ally Lehman had a game-high 11 rebounds.

SDSU held the Huskies to just one three-pointer on 11 shot attempts and 32 percent from the field on the game while being plus three on rebounds and forcing 13 turnovers.

“I thought our defense was really good,” Johnston said. “They’re great at putting it on the floor and driving. … They just put a lot of pressure on you. They pick up fouls and they help. I thought we were pretty good defensively at that, but our zone was even better. It took the ball off the floor for them and made them more of a passing team, more of a catch and shoot team and that’s probably not their strength.”


Though trailing to the University of Nevada Las Vegas late in the second half, the Jackrabbits finished strong to defeat the Lady Rebels 65-59 and win the UNLV Tournament.

The Jacks jumped out to a 10-point lead midway through the four half, but UNLV slowly closed the gap, coming to within five at halftime and further closing in on the Jacks out of the break. SDSU would counter that surge, but then struggled for the middle of the half, giving up the lead.

“We had a good 30 minutes of basketball,” said head coach Aaron Johnston. “We had a six, seven minute stretch in the second half where we gave up a 16-0 run. Some of that was just missed shots on our part.  … Some of it was a few too many turnovers and some of it was some defense where we just weren’t as good as we needed to be.”

Nonetheless, the Jackrabbits had it in them to counter as several players stepped up to make big time shots. Johnston cited threes by Kerri Young and Rachel Walters along with free throws by Macy Miller and Mariah Clarin as key elements of the comeback.

“We made some plays,” Johnston said. “Our defense got very much set again and was really good the last three and half minutes.”

Clarin led all players with 22 points and 14 rebounds. Megan Waytashek also came up big for the Jacks, scoring 16.

“She just did a really good job at being aggressive,” Johnston said of Clarin. “Mariah’s just really athletic, really explosive. She has the ability to jump over people and get rebounds and the ability to get to the basket and go up and finish in traffic. She played like a senior should play, like we need seniors to play in those situations.”

If there was one area where the Lady Rebels capitalized, it was in the paint where they pulled down 20 offensive rebounds.

“We were lucky to get out of there with a win. We gave up too many second chances,” Johnston said. “… Our team’s got to play more physical on the glass.”

After returning home for a couple days, SDSU once again hits the road, travelling to Fayetteville, Ark. to face the University of Arkansas Razorbacks on Thursday, Dec. 4 at 7 p.m.

“That’s 11 days out of 20 for us [on the road],” Johnston said. “That’s a tough stretch for anyone so we just have to keep plugging away. That’s what our schedule puts us in position to do. We look at it as a good chance to get out and play good teams on the road and see where our team’s at.”