LOGAN — Three players in double-figures led Utah State to a 57-45 win over New Mexico State in a women’s basketball all-Aggie contest Saturday afternoon at the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum in a regionally televised game.
USU had a successful Play 4Kay event, wearing pink-themed warm-ups and pink socks in its effort to promote breast cancer awareness. The first 500 fans in attendance also received pink T-shirts.
With the win, the Aggies improved to 16-7 overall and 7-2 in Western Athletic Conference action, while NMSU lost its second in a row and sixth in the last eight to fall to 5-19 overall and 2-7 in WAC play.
With the win, the navy Aggies swept the season series over the maroon Aggies for the third time in seven seasons as WAC foes, and was USU’s fourth straight win over NMSU, cutting the deficit to 18-15 in the maroon Aggies’ favor.
Junior guard Jenna Johnson led Utah State with a season-high 11 points, while senior forward Maddy Plunkett and junior guard Devyn Christensen netted 10 points apiece. Christensen scored all 10 of her points in the second half, as USU pulled away from a 27-18 halftime lead, improving to 13-2 on the season when leading at intermission.
Senior forward Ashlee Brown pulled down a game-high 10 rebounds to go with seven points. Saturday was Brown’s ninth double-digit rebounding outing, and she also dished out a season-high five assists. Plunkett matched Brown with five assists for a new career-high.
NMSU also had three players in double-figures led by Tabytha Wampler’s game-best 12 points, while Kelsie Rozendaal and Dre’ Chenier tossed in 10 each. Wampler and Erica Sanchez snared seven rebounds each as the maroon Aggies had a slight 38-35 rebounding edge, as USU is now 8-7 when out-rebounding the opposition.
The home Aggies shot 22-of-53 (41.5 percent) from the field, including 3-of-16 (18.8 percent) from three-point range, as Plunkett hit a pair of treys and senior guard Brooke Jackson added one. USU was also 10-of-12 (83.3 percent) at the free-throw line.
NMSU made 31.0 percent (18-of-58) of its field goals, making 17.4 percent (4-of-23) behind the arc, and were 5-of-7 (71.4 percent) at the charity stripe.
The USU defense forced 20 NMSU turnovers, which the home team converted into a 26-12 points off turnovers advantage. Utah State also had a 36-22 points in the paint edge.
Neither team could find the bottom of the net in the early going before NMSU’s Rozendaal hit a layup with 17:35 on the clock for the visiting Aggies’ lone lead of the game.
USU later opened up a 16-8 lead after a Jackson layup at the 9:44 mark, but NMSU closed to 16-12 with 8:21 on the clock after a bucket by Camila Rosen. That would be the closest the maroon clad team would get as the home Aggies took to 27-16 lead with eight seconds left in the half on an old-fashioned three-point play by Johnson before Rosen hit another basket with two ticks to go for the 27-18 halftime score in USU’s favor.
Held scoreless in the first half, Christensen changed that in a hurry, sparking a 12-5 run to open the half with a layup just 24 seconds into action and closing it on another layup, both starting by steals from Johnson, and USU took a 39-23 lead with 16:05 on the second-half clock.
New Mexico State closed the gap to seven on two different occasions, the last at 11:40 left after a layup by Wampler, but the home Aggies wouldn’t let the visitors get any closer as Christensen converted a three-point play with 10:53 on the clock and USU’s defense closed out the win. The navy Aggie advantage grew to 52-38 with 3:55 to play on a Johnson jumper and NMSU didn’t get any closer than nine points in the final minutes.
Utah State hits the road for its final regular-season road trip, heading to Reno, Nev., to take on Nevada on Thursday, Feb. 16 and at Fresno, Calif., against Fresno State on Saturday, Feb. 18.
Both games on the road trip tip at 8 p.m. (MT). USU returns home to close out the regular season with a three-game homestand, opening on Saturday, March 25 against Idaho in a 2 p.m. tip-off.
For USU women’s basketball ticket information, contact the USU Ticket Office at the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum, by phone by calling 1-888-USTATE-1 or (435) 797-0305, or online 24 hours a day at www.UtahStateAggies.com and clicking on the “buy/renew tickets” under the “tickets” drop down menu.
Fans can follow USU women’s basketball at http://twitter.com/Aggiehoops and Utah State athletics at http://twitter.com/USUAthletics. Aggie fans can also follow the Utah State athletics programs at twitter.com/USUAthletics or on Facebook at Utah State University Athletics.
Doug Hoffman is the assistant athletic director for Utah State University Athletic Media Relations.