Lady Aggies take first win at WAC Tourney
Published: Thursday, March 14, 2013
Updated: Friday, March 15, 2013 18:03
The quarterfinals of the women’s Western Athletic Conference Tournament started on Wednesday afternoon, and that’s where Utah State began its quest for a WAC championship. The No. 2 seeded Aggies faced off against the No. 7 Denver Pioneers and won, 78-65.
“Tonight was the emotional our team has played all season,” USU head coach Jerry Finkbeiner said. “We have a lot left in our tanks, we aren’t burned out, we’re not excited out, we’re not beat down, it’s just time to release it (emotion).”
With the USU win they will face the University of Idaho in the semifinals on Friday afternoon. The third seeded Vandals played earlier today and defeated San Jose State 55-57. The winner of that game will play in Saturday’s final.
“We were extremely lucky to beat Idaho at Idaho down by 16 in the second half and came back to win,” Finkbeiner said. “Then we had one of our better games of the year in Logan and won. We will look to beat them for the third time.”
Junior Jennifer Schlott had an impressive outing for USU with a game high 21 points and eight assists. Senior Devyn Christensen had 16 points. Playing in her first ever WAC tournament Makenlee Williams had 16 points and was 4-6 from the 3-point line.
“My teammates put me in really good positions and we shared the ball really well tonight,” Schlott said. “Everything was clicking, it was just one of those games where everything felt good.”
Kailey Edwards led the Pioneers with 18 points, and Emiko Smith chipped in with 14 points and four rebounds.
“It’s really tough to match-up against a team that is so guard oriented,” Finkbeiner said. “I thought it was going to be a battle between their guards and our guards and it was. Schlott had a magnificent game and Williams showed what she is made of tonight.”
It was an explosive first half for the Aggies as they took 45-32 lead into halftime. Schlott exploded for 17 points and five assists in the half. She also got some help from the rest of the team as USU shot 58 percent from the field and 57 percent from beyond the arc.
USU jumped out to an early 20-9 lead and their hot shooting should have put the game out of reach, but foul trouble kept the Pioneers in the game. Denver shot 11-15 from the charity stripe to keep the score close at the break.
In the second half the Aggies shooting cooled off a bit but they were still 50 percent from the field and shot 45 percent from beyond the arc.
USU got balanced scoring in the second half but Williams stood out with her 11 points. Denver turned up the defensive intensity in the final two minutes but the Aggies had the game well in hand.
“It was just like any other game,” Williams said. “There is more on the line but I wasn’t really focused with what was on the line. I just wanted to go out there to play and win, and that’s obviously what we did.”
The Aggies finished the game shooting 55 percent from the field and 52 percent from the 3-point line.
“We are good shooters and tonight they distributed the ball really well to get open shots,” Finkbeiner said.