FRESNO — In a battle between the first- and second-place teams in the Western Athletic Conference, first-place Fresno State University prevailed over the Utah State University women's basketball team, 78-60, in Fresno on Saturday night.
Utah State falls to 17-8 overall and 8-3 in the Western Athletic Conference. The road loss was the Aggies' first since losing to Idaho State University on Dec. 10. Utah State had won eight straight road games, including its first seven WAC games. Fresno State improves to 22-4 overall and 10-0 in league action with the win.
Despite the loss, the Aggies maintain sole possession of second place in the WAC after Louisiana Tech University lost to University of Hawaii earlier Saturday.
The Aggies were led by 21 points from junior guard Devyn Christensen. Fellow junior guard Jenna Johnson also added a career high with 17 points to go along with seven rebounds. Senior forward Ashlee Brown led all players with 12 rebounds, while adding five points and three assists.
Rosie Moult scored a team-high 20 points for Fresno State with Ki-Ki Moore adding 12 points. Alex Sheedy had a double-double with 10 points and 10 rebounds for the Bulldogs.
Both teams shot well early in the game, with the Aggies making their first two threes to take a 10-8 lead early on. A basket by freshman guard Elise Nelson gave USU a 12-8 advantage.
After a Madison Parrish three, Fresno State was able to tie the score at 16-16 with 11:12 left in the first half. Utah State quickly bounced back with a basket by Christensen to put the Aggies back up 18-16.
After five straight points from Moult, Fresno State took its first double-digit lead of the half, 30-20, with just over four minutes left in the first stanza. The Bulldogs used a 9-0 run to take a 32-20 advantage. Fresno State took as big a lead as 13 points in the first half before USU was able to whittle the lead down to nine points at halftime, 39-30.
In the first half, Utah State was led by 10 points from Johnson, just two shy of her season high. Christensen added nine first-half points. Despite scoring only two points in the first half, Brown was crucial on the boards with six to lead the Aggies. Utah State won the battle of the boards in the first half, outrebounding Fresno State, 19-18 in the first 20 minutes.
Fresno State's big guns of Moult and Moore were the Bulldogs' leaders in the first half. Moult led all scorers with 13 points, while Moore put in eight. Fresno State won the points in the paint war in the first half, 22-16.
The hot-shooting Bulldogs jumped out to a 50-34 lead with just under 16 minutes left in the game after another three by Moult, who would end the game with four treys.
Despite six straight points by Christensen, Fresno State maintained a double-digit lead, 54-43, with under 12 left in the second half. A Veronica Wilson layup stretched the Fresno State lead to 58-43 with 10 minutes remaining.
The Bulldogs took a 20-point lead after a layup by Bree Farley put Fresno State up 73-53 with four minutes left in the game.
The Aggies made one last push, making six straight points, but were not able to get any closer than 78-60, which is how the game ended.
Utah State ended the game shooting 20 of 59 (33.9 percent) from the floor. The Aggies were 6 of 14 from 3-point range (42.9 percent), while shooting 14 of 18 (77.8 percent) from the free-throw line. Fresno State was 31 of 67 (46.3 percent) from the field, going 7 of 22 from three (31.8 percent). The Bulldogs were 9 of 16 (56.3 percent) from the free-throw line.
After going 1-1 to end the road portion of the WAC schedule, Utah State returns home for one game next week. The Aggies will host University of Idaho on Saturday at 2 p.m.
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.