The San Francisco State women’s basketball team got the win over the visiting Notre Dame de Namur Argonauts in the final game of the Thanksgiving Classic on Nov. 25.
The team was coming out of the dark after back-to-back losses against California State University, East Bay and Fresno Pacific.
Junior Forward Prime Stephens notched a double-double with 27 points and 13 rebounds, earning her Tournament MVP honors while Senior Guard Erika Nilsen was named to the All-Tournament team, adding 16 points and six boards.
A 5-0 run by the Gators got the scoring started by an Erika Nilsen layup and a three point shot. Then, Stephens followed her up with a jumper, making the lead 7-0.
The Gators were ahead the whole first half, leading by 10 points for most of the way.
The Argonauts had a total of 13 players versus the nine Gators. However, the Gators were outrunning the visitors with 19 second-chance points and eight fast-break points against the Argonauts’ two fast-break points.
“That’s been something that we said from the beginning,” said head coach Kristina Danella. “We need to be the best-conditioned team because we don’t have a lot of numbers. I think we are in great shape.”
Stephens said she remembers all the conditioning the team went through in the pre-season, and the results showed. The junior was a problem for the Argonauts. The other players run into her body and throw up an off-balance shot that would ricochet off the backboard back into her hands.
Stephens had 13 of the Gators’ 24 rebounds and finished with a game high of 27 points.
“I always took pride in defense,” said Stephens. “My coaches always told me, ‘offense wins games, but defense wins championships.’ And it’s just fun. If I’m not scoring, the other person’s not scoring either.”
Stephens definitely scored, though. She opened up the second half’s scoring with two points, extending the lead 36-28. With over six minutes to go, Jenise McKnight of the Argonauts knocked down a shot from three point range to bring the Argonauts within six points.
Nilsen silenced their bench when she got her first points in the second half on a triple from the left corner and continued to put up another shot to bring the score to 46-35. Notre Dame battled back to cut into the deficit. However, back-to-back three pointers by Nilsen shifted the currents and gave the Gators a 58-42 lead in the fourth quarter. Nilsen finished with a total of four three pointers, three of which happened in the second half.
“In the beginning I wasn’t hitting it,” said Nilsen, “And they kept feeding it to me, kept telling me to shoot it and keeping me positive which was good.”
The Gators will host California State University, Los Angeles at the Purple Out IV home opener on Friday, Dec. 1.