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Schlott's performance not enough as USU suffers first conference loss

staff writer

Published: Saturday, January 11, 2014

Updated: Tuesday, January 14, 2014 00:01

Jennifer Schlott

Delayne Ripplinger

Senior Jennifer Schlott is blocked by an Air Force defender during a Jan. 1 game at the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum.

A late surge fell short for the Utah State women’s basketball team, resulting in a 76-72 loss to Nevada at the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum on Saturday. The loss drops the Aggies to 2-1 in the conference and an overall record of 8-6.

“Our offense really struggled, but we’ve got some things that we can go to, some things that we can work on,” said USU head coach Jerry Finkbeiner following the loss. “Tonight’s game was winnable. Credit Nevada. We took a calculated risk by fouling people, and they made their shots. We called a couple plays down the stretch that weren’t executed right. The Mountain West, it’s not going to get any easier.”

USU closed in on Nevada with less than two minutes remaining, trailing the Wolf Pack 68-74 after a pair of Nevada free throws. Junior guard Elise Nelson scored a layup to bring the Aggies within four then blocked Nevada’s leading-scorer Terilyn Moe on the other end, resulting in a turnover and a foul on Aja Johnson and sending junior Aggie forward Franny Vaaulu to the foul line.

Vaaulu hit both foul shots, and the Aggies trailed by just two points with 52 seconds left on the clock. Nevada forward Emily Burns turned the ball over and gave USU a chance to tie the game, but a missed Aggie layup and clutch free throw shooting by the Wolf Pack carried Nevada to the narrow victory.

“I look forward to the challenges ahead, because we have a chance to get better by cleaning some things up,” Finkbeiner said.

The Aggies struggled to contain Nevada’s offense, which benefitted from balanced scoring and three players with double-digit point totals. USU also lost the rebounding battle 50-35, due in no small part to Nevada’s 6-foot-8 center Mimi Mungedi, who snagged 16 rebounds in 23 minutes of playing time.

“We struggle with a big girl down on the block,” Finkbeiner said. “(Mungedi) might have been the difference in the game, just because of how many rebounds she got.”

Despite a six-inch height disadvantage when matched up against Mungedi, the 6-foot-2 Vaaulu still flirted with a double-double, scoring 18 points and grabbing eight rebounds all while shooting a perfect 6-6 from the foul line.

“Franny was big-time tonight, that’s for sure,” said senior guard Jennifer Schlott. “We’ve always needed a post presence and I think she finally realizes it, and I think for the rest of the year, she’s set an example for herself.”

Finkbeiner agreed.

“Franny’s a winner, but we need her to play for 40 minutes,” Finkbeiner said. “The statline for Franny looked pretty good tonight, but we’d prefer her to do a lot more, too.”

Nevada cashed in 32 foul shots for 26 points in the contest, doubling USU’s 13-for-16 night at the line.

“That’s just way too much,” Schlott said. “That right there kind of cost us the game.”

Schlott played almost the entire game, scoring a team-high 22 points and recording five assists, five rebounds and three steals in 38 minutes. Sophomore guard Stephanie Bairstow added 13 points on 5-for-9 shooting, and junior guard Ingrida Strikas dished out four assists and snagged seven rebounds, three of which were offensive.

“It’s disappointing, that’s for sure,” Schlott said. “We’re going to bounce back. We’re going to learn from it. Down the stretch, we just need to execute a lot better.”

USU faces 11-4 Colorado State Wednesday, Jan. 15 in Fort Collins. The Rams are 7-1 at home this season and 3-1 against conference opponents. The Aggies return to the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum Saturday, Jan. 18 to battle Boise State.

Twitter: @Logantj 

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