Texas State senior guard Diamond Ford should be employed by the United States Postal Service, because when it comes to scoring points, Ford delivers.
Ford has been the only constant for the Bobcats during a difficult 2012-13 season. Her 21.4-points per game average leads Texas State and the WAC and is tied for ninth among NCAA Division I women, less than a point behind Baylor star center Brittney Griner (22.3).
On Saturday in her home finale against San Jose State, Ford will continue her quest to set the Bobcats’ single-season record for scoring; she was just 57 points from breaking the mark entering Texas State’s game Thursday against Utah State. She is also chasing the Bobcats’ career mark for points of 1,993 established by Linda Muelker from 1981-85, but is unlikely to challenge that record unless Texas State extends its season and finds a way into the NCAA tournament.
When former Texas State coach Suzanne Fox recruited Ford to San Marcos, she had one mantra for Ford – shoot the ball a lot and provide the bulk of the scoring for her team. Nothing changed for Ford when Zenarae Antoine replaced Fox before last season.
“It’s been my role for the team to score and shoot the ball and to make things happen,” Ford said. “I am always looking for shots or to get to the free-throw line and my teammates look for me as the first option every time down the floor. I have accepted that responsibility.”
Ford was a well-known commodity entering the season after leading the Southland Conference in scoring as a junior in both conference games (19.2 points per game) and total games (18.5 points per game). She was named to the All-Southland Conference first team after the 2011-12 season.
Opposing teams have tried to devise a strategy to keep the ball out of Ford’s hands and to limit her impact on games, but it hasn’t worked. Ford has scored 20 or more points in 18 of the Bobcats’ 26 games and put up at least 20 points in nine of her last 10 games.
On Dec. 29, Ford torched San Jose State for 40 points – the first time since March 1, 1999 that a WAC woman had reached the 40-point mark. In that game she hit six shots from beyond the 3-point arc.
Freshman point guard Ayriel Anderson knows where the team’s bread is buttered and makes certain to get the ball to Ford where she can do the most damage.
“When I get the ball, Diamond does a great job of running the floor and getting to spots to shoot before the defense has the time to react to her,” said Anderson, who has dished out 74 assists this season, many of them to Ford. “She is so tough to guard because she’s not afraid to pull the ball down and go inside if she has that option.”
Ford has never wavered in her shoot-first mentality, and that has affected her shooting percentages, both overall and on 3-pointers. Entering Thursday’s game, she had attempted 1,535 shots in her college career and made 628 of them (41 percent). On threes Ford has hit on 171 of 520 shots (33 percent) and she has hit of 385 of 486 free throws (79 percent).
Antoine said Ford could play, and be a great scorer, on any team at any level.
“She has carried us, but we have asked her to,” Antoine said. “I can’t imagine where we would be without her. It takes a special mentality to play and succeed with a target on your back every game, but Diamond has come through for us time and time again.”
Would Ford trade some of those points for a few more wins for the Bobcats?
“I have to score for us to have a chance so that would be hard to do,” she said. “I would love to have the records and we want to finish the season on a high note. To me, those two things go hand in hand.”