Dec. 2, 2011
BOZEMAN, Mont. - Sharp shooting and timely rebounding were the downfall of the Utah State women's basketball team, falling to Montana State, 78-61, Friday at Worthington Arena in Bozeman.
With the loss, Utah State falls to 5-3 this season with its first two-game losing streak of the season. Montana State improves to 6-2 on the year, winning its third straight.
Head coach Tricia Binford and the Bobcats are 3-0 against her former mentor, USU head coach Raegan Pebley. Montana State defeated USU two years in a row with wins in 2006 in Bozeman (71-53) and a win in Logan (71-49) in 2007.
Utah State is now 1-2 against the Big Sky Conference this season with a win against Weber State and losses to Montana and Montana State.
Senior forward Maddy Plunkett made her first career start, while junior guard Devyn Christensen made her first start of the season. Junior guard Jenna Johnson missed her first game of the season with an injury.
The Aggies were led by 14 points from Plunkett and Christensen. For the first time this season, senior Ashlee Brown did not score in double figures with eight points. Brown did come through on the boards with 11 rebounds to lead both teams.
Montana State's Rachel Semnasky recorded the game's only double-double with 17 points and 10 boards. The Bobcats had five players score in double digits. For the game, USU was out-rebounded 44-33.
Plunkett made the most of her first start as an Aggie, scoring the first five points of the game for Utah State. Early on both teams were hot, matching shots as the teams were tied 12-12 with 15 minutes left in the first half.
The Bobcats jumped out to a 21-16 lead with 11:19 left in the first half, continuing their strong shooting. Montana State made three treys in the first nine minutes of the game. A Brown lay up with 9:07 left in the half, gave the Aggies a 22-21 advantage. The bucket was the Aggies' leading scorers first of the game. Semansky's ninth point of the half put MSU back on top 23-22. MSU took its biggest lead of the half, 30-24 when Jackie Elliot scored on an old-fashioned three point play.
With two minutes left in the half, the Aggies scored four-straight points to cut the lead to 33-30.
Despite being out-rebounded 22-15 in the first half, Utah State was down only 35-33 at the break. The Aggies used a 7-2 run to cut the lead down to only two. USU was led in the first half by nine points by Plunkett, while Christensen added eight. Montana State was led nine points from Semansky with Banis and Bussey adding eight. The Bobcats came out strong in the second half, scoring the first five points. That run was stopped by a three by junior guard Jennifer Schlott.
Montana State continued its sharp shooting, opening up a 51-42 lead with less than 13 minutes left in the game. The Bobcats took their first double-digit lead of the game, 53-42, on a Jackie Elliott lay up with 11:45 left.
Once MSU reached double digits, the Aggies had hard time chipping away at the Bobcat lead. Rough shooting nights by both Aggie leading scorers Brown and senior guard Brooke Jackson made it difficult for USU to cut into the lead. The Bobcats took its biggest lead of the game 76-57 with 2:25 left in the game on a lay up by Semansky.
The Aggies shot 35.8 percent from the field (24-of-67) and 23.5 percent from three (4-of-17). Utah State shot 75.0 percent from the free throw line (9-of-12). The Bobcats shot a stellar 50.0 percent from the field (32-of-64) and 33.3 percent from three (8-of-24). MSU shot 85.7 from the free throw line (6-of-7).
Utah State remains on the road to take on its fourth Big Sky Conference team of the season, facing Idaho State, Saturday, Dec. 10 at 2 p.m,
Fans can follow USU women's basketball at http://twitter.com/UTAHSTATEofmind and Utah State athletics at http://twitter.com/USUAthletics.
Live stats will be available for most Utah State women's basketball games through the women's basketball page on www.utahstateaggies.com, by clicking on GameTracker in the current events box. All home games can be viewed by clicking on "Watch Live."
For tickets contact the USU Athletics Ticket Office at (435)797-0305 or at 1-888-U-STATE-1 (1-888-878-2831) for more information or visit the Utah State athletic web site at www.UtahStateAggies.com.
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