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USU basketball: Christensen breaks Aggie scoring record as women stomp Spartans, 87-54, Saturday

By Doug Hoffman

For the Deseret News

Published: Saturday, Feb. 9 2013 11:20 p.m. MST

With a three-pointer with 11:59 left in the first half, senior guard Devyn Christensen became the Utah State women’s basketball program’s all-time leading scorer, as the Aggies cruised to an 87-54 win over San Jose State on Saturday at the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum. In Saturday’s win, USU tied a school record with 11 blocked shots and also snared a season-high 66 rebounds.

USU celebrated Play4Kay Night, which is the annual game in support of breast cancer awareness. Fans wearing pink got into the game free, and USU T-shirts were given away, while the team wore pink warm-up T-shirts as well as pink socks and shoe laces. With the win, Utah State is now 4-1 in Play4Kay games at home.

The win keeps Utah State atop the Western Athletic Conference standings with a 10-2 league mark, improving to 13-10 overall with their seventh-straight win. San Jose State is now 9-14 overall and 6-6 in WAC action. Saturday’s win was USU’s 11th win in the last 12th meeting with SJSU, improving to 12-4 as WAC foes.

Christensen’s historic basket came off an assist from fellow senior guard Pualei Furtado, one of Furtado’s three helpers on the night, and was three of Christensen’s team-high 17 points. Christensen’s three-pointer gave her 1,354 points, passing Jerrie McGahan (1977-80) with 1,353 points. With her 17 points Saturday, Christensen now has 1,362 career points.

Three other Aggies netted double-digits, as freshman guard Makenlee Williams added 14 points while junior guard Jennifer Schlott and senior guard Christal Turner netted 11 points each. All 12 USU players in uniform saw action Saturday with a total of 11 players scoring, including junior center Tanja Steed getting her first action and points as an Aggie.

Senior guard Jenna Johnson added nine points while sophomore forward Franny Vaaulu tallied eight points to go with a team-high and career-best tying 10 rebounds, matching freshman guard Stephanie Bairstow, who pulled down a career-high.

Bairstow and Johnson also had three blocks apiece, as Johnson tied her career-high, helping USU match a school record with 11 rejections.

San Jose State was led by Riana Byrd’s double-double with 19 points and 17 rebounds, while Classye James added 11 points. The Aggie defense put the clamps on Emily Schill on Saturday night, holding her to just six points after she netted 36 in the last USU-SJSU meeting on Jan. 12 in the Spartans’ 103-80 win at San Jose.

USU shot 36-of-85 (42.4 percent) from the field Saturday night, hitting 11-of-29 (37.9 percent) behind the arc, The Aggies were also 4-of-7 (57.1 percent) at the free-throw line.

The Utah State defense held SJSU to a palindromic 16-of-61 (26.2 percent) field goal shooting, making 3-of-13 (23.1 percent) from distance while making 19-of-35 (54.3 percent) at the charity stripe.

USU’s season-high 66 rebounds paced them to a dominating +30 rebounding advantage at 66-36, as in addition to Bairstow and Vaaulu, Williams pulled down a career-high eight boards and Turner snared seven to match her season-high.

Utah State started strong from the field, taking an early 17-6 advantage over the Spartans. A layup by Williams with under 13 left in the first half put the Aggies up, 26-9.

The Aggies continued to apply the pressure with back-to-back threes from Johnson that put USU up 35-11 with under eight minutes left in the half.

USU took its first 25-point lead of the game after sophomore guard Elise Nelson got the rebound from her own shot and converted a layup increasing the Aggie lead to 39-14 with 4:26 to go in the half.

The 19 points allowed by the Aggies in the first half were the least allowed this season. Christensen was the first-half leader in scoring for Utah State with 12 points with Schlott adding 11. Johnson had six points, three assists and two rebounds in the first half.

Utah State remained hot in the second half, taking a 52-23 lead after a fast-break layup by Williams with under 17 remaining. A Bairstow layup gave USU its first 30-point lead of the game at 63-32 with 12:40 left in the game, and the Aggies coasted to their eighth-straight home win to improve to 8-2 on their home court.

USU hits the road for its next two games, playing at Denver on Thursday, Feb. 14, and at New Mexico State on Saturday, Feb. 16. Both games tip at 7 p.m. (MT). The Aggies then return home to host Louisiana Tech on Thursday, Feb. 28, and then UT Arlington on Saturday, March 2.

Doug Hoffman is the assistant athletic director for Utah State University Athletic Media Relations.

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