USU Women's Basketball Battles No. 13 Nebraska on Friday
Dec. 6, 2013
LINCOLN, Neb. - TIP OFF - Utah State women's basketball continues its longest road trip of the season, taking on No. 13 Nebraska on Dec. 8 at 1 p.m. (MT) at Pinnacle Bank Arena. The Aggies are currently 1-2 on the road trip, going 1-1 at the Radisson Hotel Chatsworth Thanksgiving Classic in Northridge, Calif. and falling to South Dakota in Vermillion.
After the game against the Cornhuskers, the Aggies have two more games on the lengthy road trip. After a week off for finals, Utah State will conclude the swing with a game against UC Santa Barbara on Dec. 19 and finish with a game against in-state rival, BYU, on Dec. 21. The Aggies do not return home to friendly confines of the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum until Dec. 28.
THE OPPONENT - This is the first-ever meeting between Utah State and Nebraska. The last time that the Aggies have taken on a Big 10 team was on Nov. 25, 2005 when USU fell to Illinois, 62-43. Prior to that the last meeting between USU and the Big Ten was on Feb. 27, 1982 with a loss at Indiana, 70-57.
Both the Aggies and the Cornhuskers are coming off of losses. Nebraska has lost two-straight games to Washington State and No. 18 North Carolina. Nebraska fell to 6-2 this season with a 75-62 loss at North Carolina in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge on Wednesday. It marked the first back-to-back losses by Nebraska since losing at No. 8 Penn State (Jan. 13) and at home to Illinois (Jan. 17) last season. That marked the only time last season the Huskers lost back-to-back contests.
All-American Jordan Hooper leads the team in scoring, averaging 20.1 points and 10.4 rebounds per game. Emily Cady is second on the team in scoring with 13.3 points and 9.4 rebounds per game, while Rachel Theriot scores 12.4 ppg. As a team, the Cornhuskers score 73. 8 ppg, while allowing only 59.8 ppg. Nebraska is also strong on the boards, averaging 43.5 rpg.
WHAT A DIFFERENCE A YEAR MAKES - Utah State finds itself in a very different position than through seven games last year. In 2012, the Aggies were 2-5 through seven games. This year, USU holds a much-improved 5-2 record. Last season, Jennifer Schlott averaged 7.7 ppg, while scoring 24.0 ppg in 2013. Makenlee Williams averaged 4.1 ppg last season, while bringing down 20.1 through the first seven games this season. The Aggies had played six-straight road games with its first home game coming on Dec. 1 against Montana State. This season, USU played four-straight home games to start the season before playing its next three on the road.
FAST OFF THE STARTING BLOCK - Utah State has had only two different starting lineups through the first seven games of the season. Jennifer Schlott, Elise Nelson, Makenlee Williams and Ingrida Strikas have all started all seven games. Franny Vaaulu has started six games, while Stephanie Bairstow started the first game of the year. Aggie starters account for over 80 percent of the Aggies scoring. The Aggie rebounding is a little more balanced with 63 percent of the rebounding coming from the starters.
MAKING A GOOD IMPRESSION - The Aggies have made a good impression early on in their first season in the Mountain West. USU's 60 rebound performance against Black Hills State on Nov. 9 is tied for first this season with Wyoming against Montana State on Nov. 15. Utah State has the top two steal performances in the league this season with 20 against Black Hills State and 17 against Loyola Marymount on Nov. 13. USU's 11 blocks against Black Hills State is also tops in the league so far.
GETTING AROUND THE MAP - In seven games this season, the Aggies have played teams from five different states as far apart as South Dakota (Black Hills State, South Dakota) and Virginia (Hampton). USU has faced two teams from California (Loyola Marymount, Cal State Northridge) and one from border-state Idaho (Idaho State). The final state is in-state rival Utah.
AGGIES ON THE RADIO/WEB - Most 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. There will be nine game that will only be heard through either www.UtahStateAggies.com or www.1390klgn.com but not on the radio.
AMONG THE NATION'S BEST - Utah State is eighth in the nation in two different categories. The Aggies are eighth in scoring offense out of 343 teams, averaging 86.8 ppg. Oregon is first in the country, averaging 98.3 ppg. USU is also eighth in steals per game, averaging 13.2 spg. Sacramento State is first with 15.2 spg. Individually, sophomore guard Makenlee Williams keeps the eight theme going as she is eighth in the country in free throw percentage, shooting 93.8 from the free throw line. Senior guard Jennifer Schlott is 12th in the country in points per game, averaging 23.5 ppg. Schlott is also 22nd in assists per game with 6.5 apg. Junior guard Elise Nelson is 21st in the country in steals, placing 21st, averaging 3.00 spg.
GIVING A HELPING HAND - Senior guard Jennifer Schlott had a career-high 11 assists in the Aggies' loss to Hampton on Nov. 29. Junior guard Elise Nelson also added a career-high seven assists against the Lady Pirates. Schlott's 11 assists are tied for 10th in single-season assists with Alice Coddington in 2011, Carol Garrison (1981) and Pam Shirley (1978). For the season, Schlott and Nelson are the team leaders in assists with Schlott averaging 6.1 assists per game and Nelson adding 4.6 helpers per game. As a team, USU averages 15.6 apg compared to 15.9 by its opponents.
PUTTING UP THE POINTS - Senior guard Jennifer Schlott and sophomore guard Makenlee Williams are the first two players in the Mountain West to score 30 points in a game this season. Williams was the first, scoring 35 against Black Hills State on Nov. 9, while Schlott scored a conference-best 37 against Utah on Nov. 19. USU's 103 points is also the most scored in the MW this season. USU has reached triple digits twice, while San Jose´State is the only other team in the MW to reach that point when it scored 100 against San Francisco State on Nov. 8. Schlott is first in the league in scoring, averaging 23.5 points per game, while Williams is second with 20.8 ppg.
NEARING A MILESTONE - Head coach Jerry Finkbeiner is reaching a milestone in his 25th season. Finkbeiner has an overall record of 497-258 just six wins away from the 500-win mark. He is the 48th winningest active NCAA Division I coach by winning percentage .658. By victories, Finkbeiner started the season 30th.
SEASON OPENERS - This was the 11th season since Utah State women's basketball was re-instated for the 2003-04 season. The Aggies are 3-8 in season openers, falling to Utah Valley on the road last season, 78-62. The Aggies wins came against Wyoming to open the 2011-12 season and against Utah to begin the 2009-10 year and finally the win against Black Hills State, 103-46 this season.
BEING SOCIAL WITH THE AGGIES - Fans can follow USU women's basketball at twitter.com/USUwbb and Utah State athletics at twitter.com/USUAthletics. This season, Aggie fans can also find out what Utah State is up to on instagram at instagram.com/USUWBasketball and on facebook at facebook.com/USUWbb.
ON THE INTERNET - All of Utah State's home games are available to watch live through the Aggie Digital Network via the internet at www.UtahStateAggies.com. USU fans can also listen to every game both home and away, via USU's web site. This season the Aggies will be working in conjunction with the Mountain West Digital Network to stream all home games for free.
UP NEXT - After playing four-straight home games at the friendly confines of the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum, USU hits the road for six-straight games. After taking on the Nebraska, the Aggies will then face UC Santa Barbara on Dec. 19, while rounding out the road trip at BYU on Dec. 21.
AMONG THE BEST - Jennifer Schlott's 37 points against Utah on Nov. 19 was tied for second on the single-game scoring list for Utah State. Last season, Devyn Christensen scored 37 against Idaho in the WAC Tournament. Pam Montgomery is the all-time single-game leader, scoring 38 points against Weber State in 1979.
WELCOME TO THE AGGIES - Several newcomers have made an immediate impact led by junior guard/forward Ingrida Strikas, who has started all four games. She is averaging 9.8 points and 7.2 rpg. Seven newcomers have played this season including, Strikas, Shelby Cloninger, Tijana Djukic, Lynette Johnson, Liz Landreth, Mariah Miles and Jasmine Porter.
MOVING UP THE MOUNTAIN - With Utah State's hot start, it is among the leaders in many Mountain West categories. USU is first in scoring offense (84.6 ppg) as well as field goal percentage defense (34.7). The Aggies are also first in scoring margin (+16.4), as well as three-point goal percentage defense (23.5), blocks (4.6 bpg ), assists (15.6 apg) and steals (12.4 spg).
Individually, senior guard Jennifer Schlott is first in the MW in scoring, averaging 24.0 ppg. Sophomore guard Makenlee Williams is second, averaging 20.1 ppg. Williams is also first in the league in free throw percentage (94.4 percent) and three-point field goal percentage (45.0 percent). The Aggies have four players in the top 15 in the conference in steals per game led by Junior guard Elise Nelson who is second in the league, averaging 2.6 spg. Schlott is tied for third with 2.3 spg, while Franny Vaaulu (2.1 spg) and Ingrida Strikas (1.7) are sixth and tied for 10th respectively.
LOOKING BACK - Utah State women's basketball ended the 2012-13 season ranked second in the final NCAA Division I statistics. The Aggies made 495-of-618 free throws this season and their 80.1 percent was also tops in the Western Athletic Conference. USU also had three of the top four free throw shooters in the conference led by senior guard Devyn Christensen who shot a league-leading 92.4 percent, which was also a WAC record. She finished the season third in the nation from the charity stripe. Christensen missed only nine of the 119 free throws she attempted this season. Junior guard Jennifer Schlott was third in the WAC, shooting 83.8 percent (134-of-169), while senior guard Jenna Johnson was fourth, shooting 82.6 percent (142-of-172). Utah State also ended the year fifth in the nation in scoring offense (76.5 ppg) and ninth in steals (12.0 ppg). Individually, Christensen was also second in three-point field goals per game, making 3.34 threes a game. Christensen was also among the nation's leaders in scorers, standing 17th with 20.1 points per game. Johnson was also 19th in the nation and third in the conference in steals per game (3.00 spg).
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.
THE FUTURE'S SO BRIGHT - Despite losing four seniors, including program changers Jenna Johnson and Devyn Christensen, the future is bright for Utah State. The Aggies return six letterwinners and three starters from last year's squad that won 18 games. Jennifer Schlott, who started 25 games, will be a senior next season. The guard was second on the team in scoring (14.3 ppg), free throw percentage (83.8 percent) and was first in assists (4.5 apg). Makenlee Williams had a solid freshman campaign, averaging 7.2 ppg. She was third on the team in field goal percentage (47.5 percent). Franny Vaaulu is the third starter that will be back for the Aggies. Vaaulu, who will be a junior next season, was first on the team in field goal percentage (55.3 percent).
AGGIES PICKED SIXTH IN MW PRESEASON POLL - Utah State women's basketball was selected sixth in the Mountain West Women's Basketball Preseason Poll as voted on by a panel of the league's 11 head coaches and media. The poll was announced by the conference, prior to the league's media days at the conference office in Colorado Springs, Colo.
Fresno State, coached by former USU head coach Raegan Pebley, was picked to finish first in the conference with 238 points, including 17 first-place votes. The Bulldogs captured the 2013 Mountain West Tournament. Wyoming was tabbed second with 212 points, including four first-place votes, while the 2013 MW regular-season champion San Diego State was chosen third with 196 points and two first-place votes. New Mexico (185 points) and UNLV (170 points) were voted fourth and fifth, respectively with the Rebels taking the final two first-place votes. Utah State was picked sixth with 136 points, just ahead of Colorado State at seventh with 130 points. Boise State (96 points), San José State (76), Nevada (62) and Air Force round out the poll finishing eighth-11th respectively.
Wyoming junior Kayla Woodward was named the 2013-14 MW Preseason Player of the Year. Woodward, a forward, was a second-team all-Mountain West selection last season and was named to the 2013 MW all-Tournament Team. Woodward, the top returning scorer in the league, averaged 14.1 points per game in 2012-13. She is joined on the preseason team by Colorado State's Sam Martin, Fresno State's Taylor Thompson, San Diego State's Erimma Amarikwa, and San José State's Ta`Rea Cunnigan. San Diego State's Chloe Johnson was named Preseason Freshman of the Year, while San Diego State transfer Cierra Warren earned Preseason Newcomer of the Year honors.
Utah State enters its first season in the Mountain West Conference, bringing back six letterwinners from last year's squad that finished the season 18-14, finishing second in the Western Athletic Conference with a 14-4 league record. USU also advanced to the postseason for the third-straight season playing in the Women's Basketball Invitational (WBI). The Aggies will have to replace all-WAC honorees Devyn Christensen and Jenna Johnson from the starting five, but do return senior guard Jennifer Schlott, junior center Franny Vaaulu and sophomore guard Makenlee Williams from the starting lineup.
LAST TIME OUT - Despite three Aggies scoring in double figures, the Utah State women's basketball team fell to South Dakota, 81-71, Thursday at the DakotaDome.
The Aggies fall to 5-2 with the loss and 1-2 on its current six-game road trip. With the win, the Coyotes improve to 4-5, including 3-0 against the Mountain West with wins against Wyoming and Boise State. All three wins came in Vermillion.
For the second-straight game, senior guard Jennifer Schlott scored 27 points. The senior has scored at least 20 points in five of the Aggies seven games this season. She also added six rebounds and four assists in the loss. Sophomore guard Makenlee Williams had her first double-double of the season and third of her career with 16 points and 11 rebounds. Junior forward Franny Vaaulu added 16 points and eight boards.
Nicole Seekamp led the way for the Coyotes with 20 points, nine assists and seven rebounds in the win. Margaret McCloud had a double with 18 points and 10 boards, while Polly Harrington added 16 points.
USU had by far its worst shooting night of the season, shooting only 32.1 percent in the game, including 25.0 percent in the second half. The Aggies did lose their first game of the season when they out-rebound an opponent with 48 compared to 43 by the Yotes.
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.
THE NEWBIES - The Aggies will welcome seven newcomers to the team this season, including transfers Jasmine Porter and Mariah Miles. Porter is a transfer from San Diego State, while Miles comes from Oral Roberts. Elizabeth Landreth, Shelby Cloninger and Lynette Johnson are freshmen this season with the Aggies, while Ingrida Strikas and Tijana Djukic are transfers.
AROUND THE COURT - News and Notes from around the Aggie basketball court.
Utah State ended the season scoring 2,448 points in 32 games. The Aggies broke the Utah State record for points scored in a single season. The 2011-12 team knocked in 2,243 points.
USU finished 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. During 2012-13 season, the Aggies finished third in WAC play with an 14-4 conference record which was its best finish since joining the league.
Jerry Finkbeiner - Jerry Finkbeiner enters his second season as Utah State's ninth head women's basketball coach. Assistant coaches Micha Thompson and Stu Sells return for their second and third seasons, respectively. Crystal Robinson joins the team as the Aggies' third assistant coach, while Ebony Haliburton will be USU's Director of Basketball Operations.