Coach Jerry Finkbeiner Wins 500th Game as USU Women Spear Spartans, 78-65, Saturday
Jan. 4, 2014
SAN JOSE, Calif. - Utah State women's basketball coach Jerry Finkbeiner captured his 500th career win with a 78-65 victory over San José State at the Event Center Saturday.
Finkbeiner, who is in his second season at Utah State, now holds a 500-260 record in 25 seasons as a head coach. Finkbeiner has coached at Northwest Nazerene, Southern Nazerene and Oral Roberts, along with Utah State.
With the win, Utah State improves to 8-5 overall and 2-0 in the Mountain West. This is the third-straight season that the Aggies have begun conference play 2-0, as USU opened play in the Western Athletic Conference with 2-0 marks the last two seasons. The Spartans fall to 6-7 overall and 0-2 in league action.
Senior guard Jennifer Schlott was the team's leader in scoring with 18 points to go along with five rebounds and five assists. Junior forward Franny Vaaulu added 12 points two rebounds and two blocks, while junior guard Elise Nelson had another solid performance with 11 points, seven boards and seven assists. Sophomore guard Stephanie Bairstow had a career-high 10 points to go along with five rebounds.
San José State's Classye James scored 15 points, while Ta'Rea Cunnigan added 13 points. SJSU had two players in double digits in rebounds, as Riana Byrd and Jasmine Smith had 10 boards.
In a battle of the Mountain West's two highest scoring offenses, defense played a big part. SJSU entered the game averaging 83.5 points per game, while USU scored 82.6 ppg. The Aggies had 10 steals and forced 29 Spartan turnovers in the win. The 29 turnovers ties for the most forced this season, tying the number forced against Loyola Marymount on Nov. 13.
The Aggies were solid early scoring the first eight points of the game. Utah State was also able to force four turnovers in the first four minutes of action. The Spartans used the three to cut the lead to 11-9 with under 15 to play.
San José State used yet another three to tie the score at 13-13 with 14 minutes left in the first half. The Spartans hit four threes in the first seven minutes of the game.
After SJSU tied the score at 18-18, the Aggies responded with a 7-0 run to take a 25-18 lead. Very strong defense by USU helped the Aggies jump ahead 30-19 with under seven left in the first half.
Three-straight baskets by Bairstow led to a San José State timeout, as the Aggies' lead increased to 36-20 with 2:49 remaining in the first 20 minutes.
In the first 20 minutes, USU was led by nine points from both Nelson and Schlott. Nine different Aggies had a rebound in the first half, led by five by Nelson. The junior guard also added four steals in the first half.
USU was able to keep Cunnigan from scoring in the first half. Cunnigan is second in the MW in scoring behind Schlott. James and Britta Hall led SJSU in scoring in the first half with seven points apiece. Smith was solid on the board for San José State with eight first-half boards.
Behind two treys from freshman guard Shelby Cloninger, USU scored the first nine points of the second half to take a 51-26 advantage, leading to a Spartan timeout. After a Nelson layup, the Aggies took its biggest lead of the game 27 points, 69-42 with 6:31 left.
As the Aggie bench earned more minutes, San José State chipped away at the USU lead. The Utah State lead never got under 13 as USU played all 12 players that dressed and held on to the double-digit win.
For the game, Utah State shot 43.8 percent (32-of-73) from the field. The Aggies shot 35.7 percent from beyond the arc (5-of-14), while ending the game shooting a season-low 52.9 percent from the charity stripe (9-of-17). San José State shot 29.9 percent from the field (20-of-67), while making 9-of-25 from three which was good for 36.0 percent. The Spartans shot 55.2 percent from the free throw line (16-of-29).
The Aggies return home for a brief one-game homestand against Nevada on Saturday, Jan. 11 at 7 p.m. in USU's only game next week.
Live stats will be available this week by going to www.utahstateaggies.com. Live audio for both games is available by going to the "Listen Live" link on the front page of the Utah State web site at www.utahstateaggies.com.
Fans can follow USU women's basketball at www.twitter.com/UtahStateWBB, as well as on facebook, at www.facebook.com/USUWBB. Aggie fans can also follow the Utah State athletic program at twitter.com/USUAthletics or on Facebook at facebook, at www.facebook.com/USUAthletics. Utah State women's basketball is now also on instagram at www.instagram.com/USUWbasketball.
Aggie women's basketball tickets will be available by contacting the USU Athletics Ticket Office at (435) 797-0305 or at 1-888- -STATE-1 (1-888-878-2831) for more information or visit the Utah State athletics web site at www.UtahStateAggies.com.