Jan. 9, 2008
LOGAN, Utah - Using a stellar defensive effort that forced a season-high 33 turnovers, Utah State beat Hawai'i, 55-48, Wednesday night in Western Athletic Conference women's basketball action at the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum. The win improves USU to 2-0 in WAC action, marking the first time in head coach Raegan Pebley's five-year tenure that the Aggies opened conference play with a 2-0 ledger.
Overall Utah State won its third in a row, tying its longest win streak under Pebley, in improving to 6-8 on the season. USU has won three of its last four games and five of the last eight.
Hawai'i, which was playing for the first time since Dec. 29, lost its fourth game in last six outings in falling to 6-8 overall and 0-1 in WAC play. Wednesday was the Rainbow Wahine's first true road game of the year, as they had only played two games away from home in the USC Classic.
The victory was Utah State's first over Hawai'i since 1980, as the USU program was disbanded from 1987 to the 2003-04 season, snapping UH's four-game win streak in the series and evening the all-time ledger at 4-4.
Wednesday the Aggies forced 33 Rainbow Wahine turnovers, a season-high for the USU defense, and turned those turnovers into 28 points, while only committing 17 miscues themselves which UH converted into just nine points.
From the field, Utah State shot 31.7 percent (20-of-63), including just 5-of-16 (31.3 percent) behind the three-point arc. The Aggies hit 10-of-15 (66.7 percent) at the free throw line.
Hawai'i shot 41.7 percent (20-of-48) from the floor, but were also lowly from three-point land, making just 2-of-10 (.200). UH was 6-of-13 (46.2 percent) at the charity stripe.
The Utah State defense swiped a season-high 17 steals, including a career-high eight by junior guard Danyelle Snelgro, while junior guard Alice Coddington tied a career-high with three, part of seven players with at least one steal.
Richards now has 990 career points, leaving her just 10 shy of the 1,000 career point milestone and 31 points to tie Pam Shirley (1977-79) at No. 4 on USU's Career Scoring list with 1,021 points.
Senior guard Jamelah Brown snared six rebounds while Richards pulled down five, but USU was out-rebounded by UH, 48-32.
The Rainbow Wahine were led by Iwona Zagrobelna's game-high 18 points along with nine rebounds, while Tanya Smith logged her 10th double-double of the year with 13 points and a game-high 12 rebounds.
In a sluggish start, both teams combined for just 13 points in the first eight minutes of the game and had a combined 13 turnovers. After taking a 7-4 lead on a three-pointer from Richards at the 16:26 mark, USU had a five minute scoreless drought, but fortunately the Aggie defense held the Rainbow Wahine to only two points during that span as well.
USU got on track with a 5-0 spurt late in the first half to take its largest lead of the opening stanza to that point at 24-16 after a Richards jumper with 4:33 on the clock before extending the lead to a palindromic 32-23 at the half, as Richards and Coddington drained consecutive treys in the waning minutes of the period.
Snelgro spearheaded the Aggies charge out of halftime, scoring the first four points and contributing with steals to set up the next four as USU built a 41-28 lead just over six minutes into the second half.
The gap grew to its largest of the night at 16 with 6:39 remaining at 52-36 after a layup from sophomore forward Nicole Johnson. After Hawai'i went on a 12-1 streak to close to 53-48 with 1:26 left on a layup by Megan Tinnin, USU secured the victory with a defensive stop and two Snelgro free pitches with 20 seconds left.
Utah State hits the road for a three-game road swing beginning Saturday, Jan. 12 at New Mexico State, in pursuit of the program's first four-game win streak since 1985. USU will also be returning to the site of its first-ever WAC win, on Feb. 9, 2006, the Aggies' first season in the league. Utah State has a three-game win streak against NMSU.
USU then takes on defending WAC champion Boise State on Jan. 17 and play at Idaho on Jan. 19 before returning home to host New Mexico State on Jan. 24.
For Utah State basketball ticket information, fans can go to www.UtahStateAggies.com and click on "tickets" or call the USU Ticket Office at 1-800-USTATE-1 or 435-797-0305.
All the Utah State women's basketball games can be heard on KLGN (1390 AM) in Logan with Evan Nyman calling the play-by-play and former Aggie women's basketball player Ashley Rutledge providing color commentary for home games. They can also be heard on the web through Yahoo! Sports, by going to the Utah State Athletic home page at www.UtahStateAggies.com and clicking on the Yahoo! Sports link in the right hand column.
Fans can follow all the Aggie home games through the USU web site at www.UtahStateAggies.com via GameTracker, a free service, which updates play-by-play and statistics throughout the game.
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