Aggie Women's Basketball Concludes Road Trip at No. 5 Notre Dame Saturday
Dec. 6, 2012
LOGAN, Utah - TIP OFF - Utah State women's basketball (2-6) will play in its fourth time zone this season when the Aggies travel to South Bend, Ind., in the Eastern time zone. USU will take on Notre Dame on Saturday, Dec. 8 at 10 a.m. (MT) at Purcell Pavillion.
Utah State has also played games in the Alaskan time zone and the Pacific time zone. The Aggies have played the bulk of their games in the Mountain time zone, including two-straight losses to BYU on the road and Montana State at home.
Despite four players reaching the double-figure mark, USU lost a close battle with BYU in its last game, 81-77. It was one of the closest games between the Aggies and the Cougars.
THE OPPONENT - This is the first-ever meeting between Notre Dame and Utah State. The Irish are coached by Muffett McGraw who has a 596-216 overall record as Notre Dame's head coach.
The No. 5 Fighting Irish (5-1) suffered their first loss of the season against No. 3 Baylor, 73-61, in South Bend. Jewell Loyd led Notre Dame with 24 points and seven rebounds. She had all four of the Irish's three pointers in the game. Kayla McBride added 18 points and five boards. In a battle of last season's NCAA final, Baylor out-scored Notre Dame in the paint 36-26 and led in bench points 14-0.
The Irish had won their first five games of the season, including wins against Ohio State, UMass and UCLA. Notre Dame averages 75.5 points per game, while allowing only 56.2 ppg. The Irish have four players who average in double figures in scoring, led by the 15.2 ppg scored by McBride. Jewell scores 14.5 ppg, while Natalie Achonwa scores 13.2 ppg. Notre Dame star Skylar Diggins is the fourth Irish player in double figures, averaging 13.0 ppg.
CHRISTENSEN REACHES LANDMARK - In the game against PVAMU, Devyn Christensen became the seventh Aggie to break the 1,000-point plateau. She now has 1,086 points in her Utah State career, which places her fifth on the all-time scoring list. Utah State's all-time leader in scoring is Jerrie McGaham (1977-80) who scored 1,353 points as an Aggie. The last two to reach this plateau were Danyelle Snelgro (2006-09) with 1,043 and Taylor Richards (2005-08) with 1,138 points.
BIG MACK ATTACK - Utah State freshman Makenlee Williams has had two breakout games for the Aggies. The freshman, who has started six of Utah State's eight games this season, has scored in double figures the last two games. She scored 10 points in USU's home-opener loss to Montana State. Williams topped that with 15 points and a season-high six boards in the Aggies' four-point loss to BYU on Tuesday.
SECOND-HALF SCORERS - Utah State tends to take a while get going on the offensive end. In eight games this season, the Aggies have scored more in the second half six times. The only two games in which USU has scored more in the first half are the two wins against Prairie View A&M and Alaska Anchorage.
HOME OPENERS - Utah State fell to 3-7 in home openers after its 71-65 loss to Montana State on Dec. 1. The Aggies home wins came against Weber State (2011), Utah (2009) and Idaho State (2006).
AGAINST THE BEST - The Irish will be the first ranked team that Utah State has taken on since Louisiana Tech in 2006. The Aggies fell to the Lady Techsters when they were ranked No. 23 on Feb. 11, 2006 and when they were ranked No. 24 on Feb. 4, 2006.
AGAINST THE BEEHIVE STATE - Since the re-instatement, the Aggies are now 15-16 against the Beehive State, including this season's losses to BYU, Utah Valley and Utah. The Aggies now gone winless against the state for just the third time in the last 10 years. In USU's first season back in 2003, the Aggies went 0-2 against the state with losses to Southern Utah and Weber State. The 2006-07 season was the only other season where the Aggies went winless against the state with losses to both Utah Valley and Weber State.
LOOKING AROUND THE LEAGUE - The WAC as a whole continues to struggle early this season. New Mexico State leads the way with a 5-3 record, while newcomer UTSA is 5-4. The crimson Aggies and the Roadrunners are the only two teams above .500. All 10 teams have earned a win UT Arlington, holding the 10th spot at 1-7. Currently, the Aggies are tied for eighth with a 2-6 record with Idaho. UTSA is the only team in the conference with a positive scoring margin (+10.7).
THE STARTERS - This season, whoever has been in the starting five has averaged 58.1 points per game of the 71.6 ppg that the team averages. The Aggies tend to get the bulk of the steals from the starting five with 94 of the 118 total steals coming from the starters. The starters so far this season have shot 41.7 percent from the field (164-393) and 81.1 percent from the free throw line (90-of-111). In USU's loss to BYU on Dec. 4, the starters scored all 77 points.
WHAT'S NEXT - Utah State will finally play more than one game at home after the Aggies conclude this road trip at Notre Dame on Dec. 8. After a break for finals, USU will play a season-high four-straight games at the friendly confines of the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum. After starting the season playing eight of the first nine on the road, USU will not play four at home. The Aggies begin the home stand with a pair of non-conference home games against UC Irvine on Dec. 18 and South Dakota on Dec. 20. The Aggies then begin conference action against UTSA on (Dec. 29) and Texas State (Dec. 31).
FAREWELL - USU enters its eighth and final season in the WAC. Next season, the Aggies will be heading to the Mountain West Conference along with San Jose State. Last season, the Aggies finished third in WAC play with an 11-3 conference record which was its best finish since joining the league.
BEING SOCIAL WITH THE AGGIES - Fans can follow USU women's basketball at http://twitter.com/USUwbb and Utah State athletics at http://twitter.com/USUAthletics. Fans can follow along with the games and keep up with what the Aggies are up to.
SEASON OPENERS - This is the 10th season since Utah State women's basketball was re-instated for the 2003-04 season. The Aggies are 2-8 in season openers after a 78-62 loss to Utah Valley on Nov. 12. Last season, USU started the season with a win last season at Wyoming, 62-56. USU's other season opening win came to begin the 2009-10 season against in-state rival Utah in Logan, 67-58.
BEST OF THE BUNCH - In the second NCAA statistics release, senior guard Devyn Christensen is also ninth in points per game (23.0 ppg) and 12 in steals per game (3.86 spg). Christensen is also sixth in three pointers made per game (3.57). Fellow senior Jenna Johnson is 23rd in steals per game (3.57).
As a team, Utah State is ninth in the country in free throw percentage, shooting 80.3 percent from the charity stripe. USU is 56th in the NCAA in scoring offense (70.9) and three pointers per game (6.6). As a team, the Aggie defense is sixth in the country in steal, averaging 14.7 spg.
TOPS IN THE WAC - Devyn Christensen is still first in the WAC scoring, averaging 22.3 points per game. Jenna Johnson is 12th, averaging 13.5 ppg after her big 20-point game last week. Vaaulu is 19th in scoring (10.0 ppg) and third in field goal percentage (58.3 percent). Christensen, who broke the WAC's single-season record for free throw percentage, is first in this season, shooting 95.0 percent. She has only missed two of the 40 free throws that she has attempted. Christensen is also third in steals, averaging 3.88 spg with Johnson sitting right behind her in fourth, averaging 3.75 spg.
FREAKY FRANNY - In the tough overtime loss to UC Riverside on Nov. 15, sophomore forward Franny Vaaulu had a breakout game for the Aggies. The Los Angeles native scored a team-high 24 points and added 10 rebounds for her first double-double of her USU career. She also played a career-high 34 minutes. Playing in front of a lot of family in the Golden State, Vaaulu banked in a three in the waning seconds that sent the game to regulation.
ADMISSION - Admission to Utah State's women's basketball games is $5 for adults, $1 for youth. A woman's sports pass is also available for $50. 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.
SILVER ANNIVERSARY - The 2012-13 season marks the 25th year of women's basketball at USU, and just the 10th since the program was restarted prior to the 2003-04 season. The women's hoops program at USU had been disbanded following the 1987 season due to budget cuts. USU is playing in its eighth season in the WAC after playing its first two seasons in the Big West Conference.
ALASKA - THE FINAL FRONTIER - The Aggies headed to the Final Frontier for the Great Alaska Shootout and returned with their first ever tournament win. With wins against Prairie View A&M and host Alaska Anchorage, Utah State captured the Great Alaska Shootout title. Senior guard Devyn Christensen was named MVP of the tournament, while sophomore forward Franny Vaaulu was also named to the all-tournament team. Vaaulu set the record for highest field goal percentage, shooting 81.8 (9-of-11).
AGGIES IN THE PRESEASON POLLS - Utah State women's basketball was selected first in both the Western Athletic Conference coaches' poll media poll. This is the first time that the Aggies have ever been picked first in a preseason poll. Last season, USU was second in the coaches' poll and third in the media poll. In 2010-11, the Aggies were picked seventh in both the coaches' and the media poll.
Senior guard Devyn Christensen became the second-straight Utah State women's basketball player to earn WAC Preseason Player of the Year honors when she was awarded the honor by both the coaches and the media. Last season, forward Ashlee Brown was named preseason all-WAC. Last season, Christensen was named to the second-team in the coaches' poll.
The league will have a new champion as Fresno State captured the regular season and tournament titles. The Aggies received 78 points in the WAC coaches' poll, including seven of the 10 first-place votes. Louisiana Tech was a close second with 75 points and the three remaining first-place votes. In its first season in the WAC, Denver was picked third with 55 points, while fellow newcomer Seattle U was fourth with 48 points. Idaho was just behind Seattle U in fifth place with 47 points. Texas State, another new team to the WAC, is sixth with 41 points, while San Jose State. Rounding out the coaches' poll is New Mexico State in eighth (27), and newcomers UTSA (26) and UT Arlington (17) in ninth and 10th, respectively.
In the media poll, Utah State was voted first with 165 points, including nine first-place votes. Louisiana Tech was also second in the media poll with 145 overall points and four first-place votes. Six different teams earned at least one first-place points.
LAST TIME OUT - In the closest battle with BYU since a 61-60 overtime loss in 2008, the Utah State women's basketball team came up just short against the Cougars at the Marriott Center in Provo on Tuesday, 81-77.
The Aggies out-scored the Cougars 46-42 in the second, not once backing down. Utah State has now lost three-straight games, falling to 2-6 overall this season. BYU evens out its record at 4-4 with the win.
Four different USU players reached the double-figure mark led by 18 from senior guard Jenna Johnson who also added five rebounds and three assists. Senior guard Devyn Christensen added 17 to go along with four rebounds and four steals. Junior guard Jennifer Schlott was one point from tying her career high with 16 points, while freshman guard Makenlee Williams broke her season-high with 15 points to go along with a team-high six boards.
BYU was led by 22 points from Haley Steed who scored six three pointers which made up 18 of her 22 points. Ashley Garfield led all players with 16 rebounds. With the win, the Cougars are now 31-3 all-time against the Aggies.
AGGIES ON THE RADIO/WEB - All Utah State games can be heard on KLGN (1390 AM) in Logan with Craig Hislop in his second season as the voice of the Aggies. They can also be heard on the web by going to the Utah State Athletics home page at www.UtahStateAggies.com and clink on the "Listen Live" link in the right hand column.
GAMETRACKER - Fans can follow 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.
ON THE INTERNET - All of Utah State's home games are available to watch live through Utah State TV via the internet at www.UtahStateAggies.com. USU fans can also listen to every game both home and away, via USU's web site.
THE NEWBIES - This season, Utah State welcomes nine newcomers, including four transfers, Kelsey Corcoran (Winthrop), Mariah Miles (Oral Roberts), Jasmine Porter (San Diego State) and Kali Roche (Utah Valley) that will have to sit out the 2012-13 season. Freshmen Makenlee Williams, Haylee Thompson, Stephanie Bairstow, junior Tanja Steed and senior Cristal Turner also join the Aggies this season and will be eligible to play in 2012-13.
AROUND THE COURT - News and Notes from around the Aggie basketball court.
Christensen led the league in scoring in WAC games, averaging 20.6 points. She also set the Utah State single-season free throw percentage record (86.1).
Utah State ranked third in the nation in free throw percentage (79.6), fourth in three-point field goal percentage (38.4), 19th in field goal percentage (43.6), 21st in scoring (72.4).
Utah State welcomes nine newcomers, including four transfers that will have to sit out the 2012-13 season. Freshmen Makenlee Williams, Haylee Thompson and Stephanie Bairstow, junior Tanja Steed and senior Cristal Turner also join the Aggies this season and will be eligible to play in 2012-13.
Jerry Finkbeiner - Jerry Finkbeiner took the reigns as Utah State's ninth head women's basketball coach. Finkebeiner added assistant coaches Micha Thompspon and Robert Donaldson. Stu Sells enters his second season as an assistant at Utah State.