It was supposed to be a statement game. A game that didn’t technically matter, but it did psychologically.
Having already clinched the Mountain West conference regular-season championship on Wednesday, the San Diego State women’s basketball team still felt like it had some business to take care of on Saturday.
SDSU (21-6, MW 11-2) came up short, however, falling to Colorado State 68-65 in Fort Collins, Colo.
Junior guard Courtney Clements led the Aztecs with 24 points, while junior center Malia Nahinu scored 14 points and earned four blocks.
Tied at eight apiece to begin the matchup, SDSU almost let the game slip away by surrendering a 15-2 run to CSU in the first half.
SDSU then responded with a 16-5 run of its own to enter the half only down 34-32.
The lead would change 10 times in the second half; the Rams were ultimately able to get ahead 64-62 after a jumper by freshman guard LaDeyah Forte with 43 seconds remaining.
Junior guard Chelsea Hopkins would commit a turnover on the following possession, allowing CSU to lock up the win.
Hopkins contributed 11 points, nine rebounds, six assists and three steals, but the turnover was costly.
“We still control our own destiny, we just need to re-tweak some things we did wrong today,” Hopkins said. “It makes us even hungrier.”
The defeat puts the Aztecs in a position where they must win the MW tournament in order to earn an automatic bid into the NCAA tournament.
“I am disappointed,” head coach Beth Burns said. “We have to regroup fast so we don’t limp into Senior Night.”
The Aztecs will finish their regular season schedule when they play Boise State at 7 p.m. this Wednesday at Viejas Arena.