Aggie Women's Basketball Returns To Action Against UC Santa Barbara Thursday
Dec. 16, 2013
LOGAN, Utah - TIP OFF - Utah State women's basketball has two games remaining on its lengthy six-game road trip that has kept them away from the friendly confines of the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum since Nov. 22. USU begins this week at UC Santa Barbara on Thursday, Dec. 10 at 8 p.m. (MT) at UCSB's Thunderdome.
The game against the Gauchos will be the first that will be web streamed only. Aggie fans can find play-by-play announcer Craig Hislop by going to www.utahstateaggies.com or www.1390klgn.com.
The Aggies are currently 1-3 on the road trip with losses two weeks ago to South Dakota on Dec. 5 and No. 13 Nebraska on Dec. 8. USU split games at the Radisson Hotel Chatsworth Thanksgiving Classic with a win against Cal State Northridge on Nov. 30 and a loss to Hampton on Nov. 29. The Aggies return home to friendly confines of the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum on Dec. 28.
THE OPPONENT - UC Santa Barbara holds the series lead against Utah State, 5-2. The two teams have not met since both teams were in the Big West Conference. During the 2004-05 season, the Gauchos won both games. UCSB has won the last five meetings dating back to a 60-54 win in Santa Barbara on Dec. 19, 1986. The Aggies won the first two meetings in the series, winning in 1983 on the road, 72-56. Utah State captured the first game of the series in 1976 at the UNLV Tournament, 77-68.
UC Santa Barbara is currently 4-5 with back-to-back losses to Northern Arizona and Kansas State. The Gauchos have three players, averaging in double figures, led by Nicole Nesbit who scores 18.0 points and has 3.0 rebounds per game. Destini Mason averages 13.9 ppg, while Melissa Dorning scores 13.0 ppg. UCSB is 2-3 at home this season and 2-2 on the road.
The Gauchos are coaches by Carlene Mitchell, who is a 1996 Kansas State graduate. She is in her third season at the helm of UC Santa Barbara, entering this season with a 32-31 record.
LOOKING BACK - Utah State finds itself in a very different position than through seven games last year. In 2012, the Aggies were 2-6 through eight games. This year, USU holds a much-improved 5-3 record. Last season, Jennifer Schlott averaged 7.7 ppg, while scoring 22.6 ppg in 2013. Makenlee Williams averaged 5.5 ppg last season, while bringing down 20.3 through the first eight games this season. Last 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 six on the road.
In 2013, Utah State averages over 10.0 ppg more than last season. USU averages 83.4 ppg this season, while averaging 71.6 ppg through eight games last season.
NELSON KNOCKING IT IN - Junior guard Elise Nelson has been adding scoring to her already tough defensive skills. Nelson has scored in double figures twice in the last three games. The guard scored 10 points against both Cal State Northridge on Nov. 30 and against Nebraska on Dec. 8. The defensive threat is also one of the Aggies' top rebounders, averaging 7.0 rebounds per game. She has one double-digit rebounding game this season with 10 against Utah on Nov. 19. She leads the team in overall rebounds with 56.
PUTTING IN THE TIME - Four different Aggies' have logged in 20 over 200 minutes this season. Senior Jennifer Schlott leads the team with 242 total points, averaging 30.3 minutes per game. Junior Elise Nelson is second in minutes played with 234 for an average of 29.3 mpg. Sophomore Makenlee Williams and junior Franny Vaaulu round out the quartet of Aggies with high endurance with 230 and 216 minutes played, respectively.
ON THE COURT OBSERVATIONS - In seven of USU's eight games this season the margin of victory is has been 10 points or more. The Aggies won their first four games by an average of 32 points. USU has lost its three games by an average of 13 ppg. Utah State's only game that was not decided by a double-digit margin was USU's eight- point win over Cal State Northridge on Nov. 30.
AMONG THE NATION'S BEST - The Aggies are eighth in steals per game out of 343 teams, averaging 12.9 ppg. Sacramento State is first with 16.1 spg. As a team, USU is also 20th in scoring offense (83.4 ppg), 26th in free throw percentage (75.0 percent), 33rd in turnover margin (4.88) and 36th in three point field goals made (7.6 pg).
Individually, senior guard Jennifer Schlott is 17th in the country in points per game (22.6 ppg). Baylor's Odyssey Sims is first in the nation with 29.4 ppg. Schlott is also 19th in assists per game (6.4 apg). Junior guard Elise Nelson is 35th in the nation in assist/turnover ratio (2.64).
GETTING AROUND THE MAP - In eight games this season, the Aggies have played teams from six different states as far apart as South Dakota (Black Hills State, South Dakota) and Virginia (Hampton). USU has faced a team from Nebraska (University of Nebraska), 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.
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 16.1 apg compared to 16.9 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 22.6 points per game, while Williams is second with 20.3 ppg.
NEARING A MILESTONE - Head coach Jerry Finkbeiner is reaching a milestone in his 25th season. Finkbeiner has an overall record of 497-259 just six wins away from the 500-win mark. He is the 48th winningest active NCAA Division I coach by winning percentage .657. 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 a grueling five-straight road games, the Aggies road swing comes to a close against in-state rival BYU on Saturday, Dec. 21 at 2 p.m. The Cougars are 9-1 this season, suffering their first loss of the season against in-state rival Utah, 82-74, in double overtime on Dec. 14. BYU's 9-0 start was the best in school history. Utah State and BYU have played two common opponents this season in Cal State Northridge and Utah. The Aggies are 2-0 against those teams, while BYU has a win against Cal State Northridge and a loss to Utah. The Cougars also have wins against two Mountain West teams, Nevada and UNLV.
BYU has three players averaging in double figures in Jennifer Hamson (18.0 ppg), Lexi Eaton (16.9 ppg) and Kim Beeston (11.6 ppg). Hamson averages a double-double also bringing down 10.2 rebounds per game. As a team, BYU averages 73.3 ppg, while allowing only 66.0.
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 second in scoring offense (83.4 ppg) and free throw percentage (75.0). The Aggies are also first in scoring margin (+11.9), as well as three-point goal percentage defense (26.0), assists (16.1 apg) and steals (12.9 spg).
Individually, senior guard Jennifer Schlott is still first in the MW in scoring, averaging 22.6 ppg. Sophomore guard Makenlee Williams is second, averaging 20.2 ppg. Williams is also second in the league in free throw percentage (94.4 percent) and fourth in three-point field goal percentage (40.4 percent). The Aggies have four players in the top 10 in the conference in steals per game led by Junior guard Elise Nelson who is second in the league, averaging 2.8 spg. Schlott and Franny Vaaulu are tied for third with 2.4 spg, while Ingrida Strikas (1.8) is tied for 10th.
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 strong shooting, the offense of the No. 13 Nebraska was just too much as the Utah State women's basketball team fell 95-75 to the Cornhuskers and Pinnacle Bank Arena on Dec. 8.
Nebraska was the highest ranked team that the Aggies have faces since falling to No. 5 Notre Dame, 109-70 last season in South Bend.
With the loss, Utah State falls to 5-3, losing back-to-back games for the first time this season. Nebraska stops a two-game losing streak and improves to 7-2.
Sophomore guard Makenlee Williams was the Aggies leading scorer with 21 points to go along with three rebounds. Despite fouling out early in the second half, senior guard Jennifer Schlott scored 13 points to keep her streak of scoring in double-figures alive. She has scored in double-figures in all eight of the Aggies games this season. Junior guard Elise Nelson also added 10 points. Defensively, USU was in double figures for the fifth time this season in steals with 16.
For the Huskers, Jordan Hooper led all scorers with 33 points and 14 rebounds. Emily Cady added 16 points and 10 boards, as Nebraska out-rebounded Utah State 38-27. The Huskers spent a lot of time on the free throw line going 31-37 from the charity stripe.
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.