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Aggies grab top spot in WAC

staff writer

Published: Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Updated: Tuesday, February 5, 2013 13:02

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SENIOR GUARD JENNA JOHNSON dribbles up the court during Saturday’s game against Seattle. Johnson and the Aggies came from behind to top the Redhawks at the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum and take sole possession of first place in the Western Athletic Conference. CURTIS RIPPLINGER photo


 

With first place on the line, the Utah State women’s basketball team came away with its biggest win of the season. Led by senior Devyn Christensen, the Aggies defeated Seattle University 67-62.

“We have come a long ways from 2-8 to start the season to 9-2 in conference,” said USU head coach Jerry Finkbeiner. “I’m really proud of the girls and our staff. Tonight was kind of a microcosm of our year of just never say die and reaching deep within.”

Both teams came into the game tied atop of the WAC standings. With the win, the Aggies took sole possession of first place with a 9-2 conference record and 12-10 overall. USU has won six straight games, which ties the all-time record set last year.

“This is something we have worked for since preseason and we had a rough start to get into conference and to climb back on top to where we were picked in preseason,” Christensen said.

The Redhawks fall to second in the standings with an 8-3 WAC record and 11-9 overall.

Christensen is one step closer to the all-time scoring record after scoring a game high 28 points — 17 in the second half — and four steals. She now needs nine points to pass Jerri McGahan for the record.

Senior Jenna Johnson struggled from the field but had a team-high 13 rebounds to go along with four assists, two blocks and two steals. Junior Jennifer Schlott chipped in with 13 points and four assists.

Seattle’s Kacie Sowell had a double-double with 20 points and a game-high 16 rebounds.

Both teams shot 31 percent for the game. The difference in the game was the 3-point shooting. The Aggies converted on 34 percent of their shots from beyond the arc while Seattle missed all of eight of their attempts.

“We were getting great looks but we just weren’t converting,” Christensen said.

With 6:08 to play, Sowell pushed the Seattle lead to 11 points after a made free throw. Despite missing shots around the rim and strong defensive pressure by Seattle, USU cut into the lead before halftime.

“I think they were just so eager to get on top of the WAC,” Finkbeiner said. “I think we were just too eager to win this game and watch the Super Bowl tomorrow.”

“We had to get up on the guards so luckily we got some steals, some tips and Franny (Vaaulu) and Jenna (Johnson) had some good blocks.” Christensen said.

A pair of Johnson free throws knotted the game with a little more than six minutes to play. The Aggies took the lead for good with 4:34 remaining after a basket from Johnson, and Christensen carried the Aggies down the stretch to seal the win.

“Devyn Christensen showed us who she is down the stretch,” Finkbeiner said. “We went into the Devyn Christensen option the last four or five possessions and she delivered.”  

The Aggies will have a week off before their next game on Feb. 9 when they host San Jose State. The teams will tip off at 7 p.m.  

“We are going to use this week as a skill week and go hard later in the week,” Finkbeiner said.

 

Utah State 81, Idaho 50

 

Another double-double and all-around solid performance from senior Jenna Johnson led the Utah State women’s basketball team to a victory at home over the University of Idaho on Thursday. The Aggies picked up their most lopsided win of the season, 81-50.

“I thought we started off very shaky for about 12 minutes, couldn’t find the basket, but controlled the game quite well with the tempo and more about execution the rest of the night,” Finkbeiner said.

Midway through the second half, Christensen was fouled attempting a 3-pointer. Christensen hit all three free throws to surpass Ashlee Brown for most free throw makes in a career with 290.

The Aggies had five players score in double figures. Johnson had a game-high 19 points, 10 rebounds, five assists, four steals and three blocks.

“I can’t take it on just for myself,” Johnson said. “My teammates find me, I get to the hole, I get it to the rack. It’s a team sport, so I can’t take the shine. We got the win together.”

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