San Jose State Spartans women’s basketball defeated the visiting Air Force Falcons 80-61 at the Event Center on Saturday.
Nyre Harris led the Spartans with 22 points and 7 rebounds. Riana Byrd contributed 17 points and 11 rebounds for her first double-double of the season. Two other Spartans scored in double figures, with Rachol West scoring 11 and Dezz Ramos 10. For Air Force, Cortney Porter led with 17 points and 3 rebounds, and Sarah Fotsch had 12 points and 4 rebounds.
Taking a 4-0 lead within the first minute, the Spartans had a fast start aided by the full-court press. Following two free throws by Harris, Ramos tipped a pass in the backcourt and stole the ball from Air Force’s Rileymarie Clarke. Ramos then hit a quick layup off the glass. On the ensuing inbounds, the Spartans’ full-court coverage again disrupted Air Force, as Myzhanique Ladd tipped the ball out of bounds.
The first quarter ended with an 18-18 tie, with a combined 15 turnovers (8 on San Jose State and 7 on Air Force). Several Air Force turnovers occurred in the backcourt. One inbounds pass
by Fotsch bounced off the hands of San Jose State’s Ellie Stevens, who would subsequently steal the pass, draw a foul, and make two free throws. San Jose State scored 6 points off turnovers in the first quarter and 25 off turnovers for the game.
Within the first two minutes, San Jose State went on a 9-2 run and took a 27-20 lead in the second quarter. Fotsch made the lead just 30-25, after being fouled on a jump shot and completing a three-point play. San Jose State responded with a 6-0 run to go up 36-25, after Stevens hit a three-pointer, Harris made a steal around half court, and finally West hit another shot beyond the arc. Taking advantage of a missed layup by Paris Baird and inbounds turnover by Stevens, Air Force clawed back to within 38-32 inside 3 minutes before the half. San Jose State then scored 9 unanswered points, 7 of which came off 4 Air Force turnovers. With a 47-32 lead at halftime, San Jose State maintained a double-digit lead for the rest of the game.
“My shots just went in,” explained Harris in the postgame press conference.
Harris also acknowledged that the team still can improve on some areas.
“Today was a little sloppy, but coming into next game we gotta rebound, be aggressive, and finish our layups,” said Harris.
Head coach Jamie Craighead also acknowledged that improvement is needed.
“We didn’t really slam the door today. I thought that we did some things that were good in transition. Our press turned them over early, but we didn’t keep it going. We turned the ball over too much. It was just an okay performance,” commented Craighead. The Spartans committed 18 turnovers, and the team’s largest lead was the final margin at 21.
With the win, the Spartans improve to 4-9 overall (2-0 in Mountain West play). Air Force remains winless through 12 games (including one Mountain West game). While Craighead is in her third season, Air Force coach Chris Gobrecht is in her first season. Her predecessor, Andrea Williams, produced only 22 wins in five seasons, including three in the past two seasons.
San Jose State returns to action on Wednesday night at the Event Center, hosting San Diego State (6-7, 1-1 MW), who lost 55-36 to Utah State (also 6-7, 1-1 MW) at home on Saturday. On Wednesday, San Jose State beat Utah State in Logan, 86-74.