Utah State women's basketball captured its first ever tournament with a 67-57 win against Alaska Anchorage in the championship game of the Carrs/Safeway Great Alaska Shootout on Wednesday.
The Aggies used a career-high 32-points from senior guard Devyn Christensen to earn the win. For her efforts, Christensen was named Most Valuable Player of the Great Alaska Shootout.
Sophomore forward Franny Vaaulu was also named to the all-tournament team. Vaaulu set the Great Alaska Shootout record for field goal percentage in two games, shooting 81.8 percent (9-of-11) in the two wins.
USU has now won two-straight games and improves to 2-3 this season, while the Seawolves fall to 3-2 with the loss.
Besides Christensen's 32 points, USU was aided by seven points from junior guard Jennifer Schlott. Wasilla, Alaska, native Jenna Johnson added six points and four steals in the win. Vaaulu had six points, five boards and two blocks.
Alaska Anchorage was led by 14 points from Kylie Burns, while Jessica Madison added 12. Alysa Horn was the only player in the game in double figures in rebounding with 10.
Both teams started a little sloppy before Burns hit a free throw for the first score of the game. Both teams were cold to begin the game before Vaaulu hit the first field goal of the game with under 17 minutes in the first half. The Seawolves missed their first eight shots before Burns sunk a three to cut the Aggie lead to 6-4.
A Makenlee Williams layup extended the USU lead to 15-4. The Aggie offense continued to push it, advancing their lead to 26-8 after a jumper by freshman guard Stephanie Bairstow. Back-to-back threes by Madison helped chip away at the USU lead, making the score 28-16 with 5:51 left in the half. UAA would get the deficit under 10 after a three by Martin making the score 28-21 under three left in the first half.
Before half time, senior guard Cristal Turner was fouled attempting a three by Madison with 2.1 second left on the clock. Turner nailed all three free throws to get the Aggie lead back to 10 at half time, 35-25.
In the first half, the Aggies were led by 16 points from Christensen. Johnson, Bairstow and Vaaulu all added four points. Defensively, Utah State was solid with eight first-half steals, compared to three by UAA.
The Seawolves were led by nine points from Madison. Horn added five points and seven rebounds. UAA shot only 25.7 percent from the field in the first half.
Christensen continued her hot shooting into the second half, giving USU a 20-point lead, 50-30, with 11:49 left in the game. At this point, the guard had scored 23 of the Aggies 50 points. USU also remained stingy on defense with eight second-half steals.
UAA made a little mini-run with under eight left in the game, cutting the lead down to 56-38 after a basket by Jenna Buchanan. The Seawolves got the score down to 56-43 before a pair of Christensen free throws stopped the streak. UAA continued to claw back into the game, trimming the USU lead to 58-48 with under five left.
Despite the late push by the Sealwolves, the Aggies were able to make their free throws and secure the win. USU scored 67 points in both of their wins.
After tying the Great Alaska Shootout record for threes against North Dakota State with 14 yesterday, the Seawolves went cold from the free-throw line going 10-of-36 from three.
For tickets contact the USU Athletics Ticket Office at (435)797-0305 or at 1-888-U-STATE-1 (1-888-878-2831) or visit the Utah State athletic website.
Carrs/Safeway Great Alaska Shootout All-Tournament Team
Women's All-Tournament Team
Katie Birkel, North Dakota State
Kylie Burns, Alaska Anchorage
Alysa Horn, Alaska Anchorage
Franny Vaaulu, Utah State
Latia Williams, Prairie View A&M
Most Outstanding Player: Devyn Christensen, Utah State
Doug Hoffman is the assistant athletic director for Utah State University Athletic Media Relations.