Nov. 9, 2013
LOGAN, Utah - Sophomore guard Makenlee Williams opened the 2013-14 season with a bang, netting a career-high 35 points in Utah State women's basketball's season-opening 103-46 win over Black Hills State Saturday at the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum.
USU improves to 1-0 win the win, while Saturday's game was an exhibition contest for Black Hills State, an NCAA Division II school from Spearfish, S.D. The Aggies have won two of their last three season openers, and are now 3-8 in the first game of the season since Utah State reinstated women's basketball for the 2003-04 season.
Williams' 35 points is tied for the fourth-most in school history, tied with three other people, and the most since Devyn Christensen scored 37 points in a game last season.
All 12 Aggies that saw the court scored, as senior guard Jennifer Schlott added 24 points. Both Schlott and Williams made two three-pointers each, as USU was 7-of-24 (29.2 percent) from three-point range. USU shot 36-of-72 (50.0 percent) from the field, as well as 24-of-34 (70.6 percent) at the free throw line.
The Aggie defense limited Black Hills State to 25.0 percent (15-of-60) field goal shooting, as well as 0-of-15 behind the arc. The Yellow Jackets were also 16-of-32 (50.0 percent) at the charity stripe.
USU had a dominating 60-39 rebounding advantage, led by 10 from junior guard/forward Ingrida Strikas in her Aggie debut. Turner added eight boards, while Williams, junior guard Elise Nelson and sophomore forward Tijana Djukic all snared six boards. Djukic was one of six Aggie newcomers to make their Aggie debuts Saturday night, while the only one of the seven newcomers to not see action was freshman guard Liz Landreth, who was held out with an injury.
Schlott also dished out a game-high six assists and Nelson notched four helpers, part of USU's 18 assists on the night, as nine different Aggies had at least one helper.
In addition to Turner's eight blocks, Strikas added two, while Williams and junior forward Franny Vaaulu swiped four steals apiece, as USU had 20 steals, part of forcing 25 BHSU turnovers.
BHSU was led by two players with nine points apiece in Calli Bechtel and Brittnay Curl off the bench, as USU had a 30-15 bench scoring advantage. Taylor Trohkiminen pulled down seven rebounds, while Cassidy Kotelman collected six boards. Dakota Barrie dished out four assists and swiped three steals, leading the Yellow Jackets in both categories.
After a bumpy opening first few minutes, Utah State started to heat up after a jumper by Strikas to give the Aggies an 8-6 lead. The Yellow Jackets would not go away, scoring six-straight points to re-take the lead 14-10 with under 14 left in the first half.
Free throwing shooting and pesky defense helped the Aggies re-gain the lead. Steals by Strikas and freshman guard Shelby Cloninger led to back-to-back baskets by Williams. The sophomore would go on to score four-straight baskets as USU took a 27-14 lead with under seven left in the half.
The Aggies used a 19-0 run to pull away from that 14-14 tie and take a 29-14 lead after a Cloninger bucket with just over six minutes left in the half. The Yellow Jackets closed to 32-20 following a layup by Curl, but then USU went on a 15-0 run, starting by a pair of Schlott free pitches, and capped by a Williams layup for a 47-20 Aggie advantage with 1:17 left in the first frame. Schlott hit the Aggies' lone three-pointer of the first half from the right corner that went through the net as the buzzer sounded, sending the game to halftime with USU on top, 50-22.
Williams came close to her previous career-high of 21 points in the first half alone with 19 points, while Schlott added 15 despite a slow start. Eight different Aggies scored at least one point in the first half for Utah State.
In the second half, the Aggies were able to go deep in the bench, including the first collegiate points from freshman guard Lynette Johnson, Cloninger, sophomore guard Mariah Miles and junior guard/forward Jasmine Porter, all playing in their first games in the USU blue and white. Miles and Porter ended with seven points each, Strikas, Djukic and Cloninger finished with four points apiece, while Johnson tallied three points.
BHSU closed the gap to 26 points on a couple of occasions, the last at 17:16 on a layup by Kotelman, but the Aggies pulled away and coasted to the victory. After scoring 50 points in the first half, USU netted 53 in the second stanza, as Williams netted 16 points after halftime, while Schlott scored nine and Miles tallied all seven of her points in the second half.
USU continues its four-game homestand to open the season on Wednesday, Nov. 13, taking on Loyola Marymount at 7 p.m. at the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum.
For Aggie women's basketball ticket information, fans can contact the USU Athletics Ticket Office over the phone by calling 1-888-USTATE-1 or 435-797-0305 during regular hours of operation. Fans can also buy their tickets in person at the USU Ticket Office inside the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum or online by clicking on the "Buy Tickets" tab 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 also on instagram at www.instagram.com/USUWbasketball.
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