Utah State women's basketball returns to WNIT, facing Utah Thursday
For the second-straight season, the Utah State women's basketball team will play in the Women's National Invitation Tournament (WNIT), traveling to the University of Utah on Thursday, March 15, at 7 p.m.
The Aggies are 21-9 this season, advancing to the semifinals of the Western Athletic Conference Tournament in Las Vegas. The 21 wins is a school record for Utah State, breaking last season's record of 18-15. Utah will be the second Pac-12 team that USU has faced in the WNIT, defeating Arizona in the first round a year ago.
USU defeated Arizona 103-95 last season for the first USU win in a postseason game since the AIAW Championship in 1977. The Aggies' 103 points were the most points scored by USU since a 96-39 win against Southern Idaho in 1984. The Aggies fell in the second round to BYU 102-63 in Provo, giving USU a 1-1 WNIT record.
The Utes lead the all-time series 29-2 over the Aggies. The two teams did not meet in the regular season this season. The last time the two teams met was on Jan. 1, 2011, when Utah defeated Utah State 73-61 in Salt Lake City. USU's last win over Utah was a 67-58 win to open the 2009-10 campaign. Utah State's other win against Utah came on Feb. 28, 1975, 69-55.
Utah is 15-15 overall this season. The Utes have made five appearances in the WNIT (1979, 1984, 1999, 2007 and 2010) with a 3-8 overall record. Utah went 1-1 during each of its last two appearances in 2007 and 2010. In 2010, Utah defeated Saint Mary's before falling to eventual WNIT champion California in the second round.
The Utes are led by Michelle Plouffe, who averages 14.0 ppg and 8.0 rpg. As a team, Utah averages 58.7 ppg while allowing 55.8 ppg.
The Aggies are led this season by senior forward Ashlee Brown, who earned first-team all-WAC honors and was the conference's Defensive Player of the Year. Brown has 12 double-doubles this season, averaging 15.1 points and 9.0 rebounds per game.
The WNIT is celebrating its 15th season and has selected one of its most competitive fields in tournament history featuring 36 teams with 20 or more wins this season.
The Pac-12, Colonial and Atlantic 10 led all conferences with five teams represented in this year’s field. The Big East, Big West, Mid-American and Missouri Valley each added four. Other conferences represented in the field include: Atlantic Coast (3), Southern (3), Summit (3), America East (2), Big 12 (2), Conference USA (2), Sun Belt (2), West Coast (2), Atlantic Sun (1), Big Sky (1), Big South (1), Horizon (1), Ivy (1), MAAC (1), MEAC (1), Mountain West (1), Northeast (1), Ohio Valley (1), Patriot (1), Southland (1), SWAC (1) and WAC (1).
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."
Doug Hoffman is the assistant athletic director for Utah State University Athletic Media Relations.
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