USU basketball: women's team adds two more to 2013 signing class

By Doug Hoffman

For the Deseret News

Published: Thursday, April 25 2013 5:25 p.m. MDT

Utah State head women’s basketball coach Jerry Finkbeiner announced the signing of two more players to the 2013-14 class, it was announced Thursday. Junior forward Ingrida Strikas and junior center Rachel Morris will join the Aggies next season.

Strikas, a 6-foot-0 junior, comes to Utah State from Vincennes University in Vincennes, Ind. She is a native of Riga, Latvia, graduating from Riga Secondary No. 47. During the 2011-12 season at Vincennes, she averaged 9.4 points per game as well as 8.7 rebounds per game. Strikas also shot 47.0 percent from the field. She had a season-high 21 rebounds against Kaskaskia College in 2011. In her final season as a Trailblazer, she was named to the NJCAA Division I All-American Honorable Mention team for the 2011-12 season as Vincennes went 27-4 that season.

“Ingrida is a player that comes with a lot of junior college experience and a lot of international experience as a Latvian native. At 6-0, she is very versatile in multiple positions. She is an aggressive player, and one that will get immediate playing time for the 2013-14 season,” Finkbeiner said.

In her two seasons as a Trailblazer, she scored 526 points for an average of 8.5 ppg to go along with 6.0 rpg. She did not play basketball during the 2012-13 season.

Morris, a 6-4 center, comes to USU from Salt Lake Community College. She is a native of Mesquite, Nev., and is a graduate of Virgin Valley High School. She played one season at Utah before transferring to SLCC.

“Rachel Morris fills a much needed position at low post, back to the basket player, which we didn’t have this past season, and we haven’t had since Rachel signed on with us. She comes with a great high school background in Mesquite, Nev. We are looking forward to her coming in as a transfer student as junior for her to come in and take that five spot and contribute immediately for us,” Finkbeiner said.

At SLCC, Morris averaged 12.3 points and 7.4 rebounds per game in her only season as a Bruin. Morris played in 29 games and shot 60.2 percent (157-of-261) from the field. She scored 15 points or more nine times last season, including a season-high 18 points three different times.

At Utah, Morris played in 26 games with a start against Stanford, averaging 7.4 minutes per game. She shot 48.0 percent (12-of-25) from the field. She played 12 minutes in her first career appearance against Southern Utah, adding 11 minutes against Arizona with three rebounds.

Morris was also a standout at Virgin Valley High School, earning all-state honors twice. She was also a two-time Southern League MVP, setting the state record for career blocked shots (597). She averaged 14.7 points, 12.2 rebounds and 4.7 blocks per game as a senior. Virgin Valley finished second in the state in 2011 and reached the semifinals in 2010.

Utah State has already signed a trio of freshmen for the 2013-14 season. Shelby Cloninger, a 5-11 guard/forward from Kamiah, Idaho; Lynette Johnson, a 5-9 guard, from Sacramento, Calif.; and Elizabeth Landreth, a 5-10 guard from Meridian, Idaho will all be freshmen next season.

Utah State ended the 2012-13 season 18-14 overall and 14-4 in league play. In addition to a school-record 10-game home winning streak, USU also finished with a 10-3 home ledger, posting double-digit home wins for the third-straight season.

2013 Utah State women’s basketball signing class

Ingrida Strikas 6-0, Jr., F, Riga, Latvia (Riga Secondary No. 47)

Rachel Morris, 6-4, Jr., C, Mesquite, Nev. (Virgin Valley HS/Utah/Salt Lake CC)

Shelby Cloninger, 5-11, Fr., G/F, Kamiah, Idaho (Kamiah HS)*

Lynette Johnson, 5-9, Fr., G, Sacramento, Calif. (John F Kennedy HS)*

Elizabeth Landreth, 5-10, Fr., G, Meridian, Idaho (Capital HS)*

*Signed with Utah State in the fall.

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

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