Despite a near triple-double from senior guard Jenna Johnson, the Utah State women's basketball team dropped its home opener, 71-65, to Montana State on Saturday at the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum.
Johnson scored a career-high 20 points and tied her career high with 10 rebounds to lead Utah State. She also added a career-high eight steals in coming close to her first triple-double. The double-double was the second of the season for Johnson and the third of her career. Junior guard Jennifer Schlott added a season-high 13 points to go along with three assists. Senior guard Devyn Christensen added 18 points with freshman guard Makenlee Williams scoring a season-high 10.
Montana State had four people in double figures led by 18 points from Kalli Durham. Ashley Brumwell had a double-double with 13 points and 10 boards. Rachel Semansky (13) and Jackie Elliott (11) also scored in double digits. The Bobcats won the battle of the boards 48-30.
Former Utah State assistant coach and current Bobcat head coach Tricia Binford improves to 4-0 against her former squad, while the Bobcats are now 10-2 against the Aggies all-time. With the loss, USU falls to 2-5 this season, while MSU improves to 5-1 with the win. USU falls to 3-7 since the re-instatement in home openers.
Williams scored the first five points of the game to give USU an early 5-0 lead. It would be the Aggies' biggest lead of the game. The Bobcats scored the next seven points to take their first lead of the game at the 16:36 mark.
The Aggies were turnover prone early in the game with eight in the first eight minutes of the game, as Montana State jumped out to a 13-9 lead. That advantage grew to 15-9 before Christensen’s first three of the game cut the lead to 16-12.
With a layup by Johnson, USU closed within three at 19-16 with under seven minutes remaining. The Aggies got back into the game with tough defense from its guards. USU used an 8-2 run to trim the lead to 21-20 at the 6:12 mark. The Aggies took their first lead since leading 5-0 at the 18:31 mark, 22-21, after a jumper by Johnson.
A three by Durham helped put the Bobcats back on top, 26-25, with two minutes left in the first half. USU took a 30-26 lead, but MSU fought back to tie the score at 30-30, which is how the half ended.
In the second half, neither team could get a run going, but seven-straight points by the Bobcats gave MSU a 53-46 advantage with 10 minutes left in the game. An old-fashioned three-point play from Schlott cut the lead to 53-49. Johnson followed with an old-fashioned three and USU was down only one.
The Bobcats returned with back-to-back baskets to increase their lead to 57-52. MSU missed five-straight free throws, but in that time, USU was not able to cut into the five-point deficit.
A Christensen three cut the gap to three points with just 2:45 left, but Semansky responded quickly to give the Bobcats their five-point lead back. From that point, the closest the Aggies would get was four points as MSU made free throws down the stretch to seal the win.
The Aggies hit the road again beginning a two-game road trip at BYU on Tuesday, Dec. 4, at the Marriott Center at 7 p.m. USU then travels to South Bend, Ind., to face No. 5 Notre Dame on Saturday, Dec. 8, at 10 a.m. (MT).
Doug Hoffman is the assistant athletic director for Utah State University Athletic Media Relations.