Handing out end-of-year accolades
Playing in its inaugural year in the Mountain West Conference, Utah State Athletics saw a handful of high-quality performances resulting in a number of postseason accolades.
Here’s a look back at the Aggies’ first season in the conference with the annual Utah Statesman Sports Awards.
USU Player of the Year:
Jennifer Schlott, women’s basketball
Schlott finished fourth in the country in scoring, set numerous school and conference records and signed a training camp contract with a WNBA team.
With a career-high 44 points against UCSB in December, Schlott became the first USU women’s basketball player to eclipse the 40-point plateau in school history. The offensive outbreak was just the beginning for the Arizona native, as she went on to set school and conference records for points in a season as well.
She topped the 30-point mark in 10 of 18 conference games, and as if scoring wasn’t enough, also led the conference in assists with 5.7 per game.
Schlott became USU women’s basketball’s first-ever All-American, earning honorable mention from the Associated Press and being named MWC player of the year.
All things considered, Schlott may have cemented herself as the greatest women’s basketball player ever to come through USU with her performance this season.
Honorable mentions: Noelle Johnson, softball; Chari Hawkins, track and field; McKenzie Davis, women’s tennis; Tyler Larsen, Joey Demartino, Jake Doughty, football; Spencer Butterfield, men’s basketball
Newcomer of the Year:
Men’s: Jalen Moore, men’s basketball
Moore was the only freshman to play in all 32 games this season and started in five. He finished shooting 52 percent from the field while contributing a modest 5.7 points and 2.7 rebounds in an average of 17 minutes per game.
While he may not have lit up the stat sheet, Moore was a hustle player who made plays for the Aggies and adjusted quickly to playing at the college level, even after breaking his nose early at the start of the season and having to play with a mask.
In the Aggies overtime loss to then-No. 7 San Diego State at home in January, Moore scored a career-high 16 points and pulled down seven rebounds as USU nearly pulled off the upset.
With five seniors graduating and four others leaving the team, the Cache Valley-native and son of USU legend Jimmy Moore could quickly become USU’s next big star.
Honorable mentions: Darrell Garretson, Nick Vigil, football; Dennis Baumgartner, men’s tennis
Women’s: Bailey McIntire, gymnastics
McIntire made a big entrance into the college gymnastics scene with a No. 2 finish in the all-around in her first appearance as an Aggie. It was a sign of things to come for the freshman: She won the all-around in her second meet with a career-best 38.800.
In the Regional Championship meet April 5, McIntire notched team-highs in three events: the floor exercise, the uneven bars and shared the team-high on the vault. She showed she could perform with the best in her first season and when it counted most.
She set two career-highs against No. 18 Denver in February, and with just two seniors leaving the team, McIntire highlights a strong core of gymnasts returning next season.
Honorable mentions: Jessica Brooksby, Natalie Stoven, women’s soccer; Hannah Gleason, volleyball
Game of the Year:
Men’s basketball vs CSU in MWC Men’s Basketball Tournament
With 2:40 left in the game facing an 11-point deficit, it looked like the Aggies’ season was over. With 1:07 left and the deficit still at seven, there seemed to be no pulse left.
Fast forward 19 seconds and suddenly USU had a 1-point lead.
In easily the craziest finish of the season for Stew Morrill and company, Jalen Moore hit a 3-pointer, stole the ensuing inbounds pass and found Preston Medlin for an open 3-pointer, pulled down the offensive rebound when Medlin missed, got the ball back to Medlin, who then found Spencer Butterfield for a 3-pointer to cut the deficit to one.
Colorado State then self-imploded and was issued a technical foul. Butterfield went to the line and hit two free throws to take the lead, then hit four more in the final 15 seconds to ice the game.
Honorable Mention: Women’s basketball vs. UNM in MWC tournament; women’s basketball vs. CSU in MWC tournament; women’s soccer vs. New Mexico in MWC tournament; gymnastics vs. BYU
Team of the Year:
For the second-straight season, the Aggies earned a bowl bid and returned to Logan victorious. It was the first time in school history USU had posted back-to-back bowl wins, and the Aggies won the Mountain Division of the MWC in their first season in the conference.
The senior class departs with a school-record 31 wins in their four years. The defense finished ranked No. 7 in the country in scoring defense, and the offense set five school records and did it all while losing five key starters.
At least five players garnered national postseason accolades, and the team as a whole ranks among the best in the country in total number of wins over the last three seasons.
Honorable Mention: Women’s soccer; gymnastics; women’s tennis
Coach of the Year:
Matt Wells, football
Talk about having big shoes to fill and doing it in style. Wells took the reigns of the football team this season and picked up right where former head coach Gary Andersen left off.
Wells set a school record for most wins in a first season as a head coach with nine and did so as the 11th-youngest head coach in the country. His efforts resulted in him winning Mountain West Conference Coach of the Year, only the fourth coach to win the award in his first season.
Successful programs start with a head coach and how much players believe in them. There’s no doubt USU’s football program, from the players and fans all the way up to the university administration, believes in Matt Wells.
Honorable mentions: Nadalie Walsh, gymnastics; Steve Johnson, softball; Sean McInerny, women’s tennis
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