Women’s tournament in Mexico brings disappointment to Jacks

By Jordan C. Smith Sportswriter

While most students went home for Thanksgiving, the women’s basketball team traveled to Mexico to compete in the Puerto Vallarta Hardwood Tournament of Hope. The Jacks had a full slate of tough competition on their hands ending the tournament 1-2 with a season record of 6-4.

The first game was against the Texas Christian University Horned Frogs. The Jacks extended their winning streak to four games with a 57-52 win against TCU and improved to 4-2 on the season. Junior forward Mariah Clarin led the way for the Jacks as she recorded her first career double-double. Clarin scored a career high of 13 points, and also recorded a career high 15 rebounds. Junior guard Megan Waytashek and senior guard Steph Paluch each contributed 10 points in the win. 

Though they were trailing 30-29 at halftime, the Jacks hopped on an 11-3 run to open the second half. SDSU led the whole second half until TCU took the lead with 6:56 left in the game. The Jacks answered back and finished the game out strong, sinking crucial free throws to close out the Horned Frogs. 

“That’s the kind of game we want from Mariah,” said head coach Aaron Johnston. “Double figures in rebounds and maybe double figures in points, but it’s going to be because she runs the floor and she makes free throws. She played exactly how we wanted her to play.”

After a good start to the tournament, SDSU had to take on Pac-12 giant No. 5 Stanford, SDSU lost by a score of 80-60.

 The Cardinal were led offensively by their preseason Associated Press All-American Chiney Ogwumike. Ogwumike recorded game highs of 29 points and 12 rebounds. 

“We played pretty well that game,” Johnston said. “Their star player was just that good. She was probably one of the best two or three players that we have ever played against. When she was off the floor the scoring was pretty even, she is just that talented.” 

Trailing 40-19 at halftime the Jacks were only shooting 25 percent, in the second half, however, SDSU improved their shooting to 65 percent. SDSU closed out the game on a 15-4 run.

The third and final game the Jackrabbits saw themselves matched up against the Florida Gulf Coast Eagles. The Eagles sank 12 3-pointers to take charge of the game and downed the Jackrabbits 84-59.

Shooting nearly 50 percent from both field goal range and from deep, the Eagles made it very difficult for the Jacks to keep up. SDSU had three players in double digits: junior Megan Waytashek with 13, freshman Kerri Young with 12, and junior Gabrielle Boever with a season best 10. 

Heading into the second half with a 48-32 lead, FGCU opened with a 14-5 run to take a commanding 25-point lead. After the spurt of offense the Jackrabbits never got closer than 23 points for the remainder of the game.

“I don’t think we had our best effort in that game,” Johnston said. “I thought the team prepared really well and was focused and ready to go. Florida Gulf Coast played well and I think we just lost our edge as the game went on.”