In their 11th matchup against Utah Valley University, the Utah State University women’s basketball team beat the visiting Wolverines 56-45.
It was the Aggies first game against the Wolverines since December 2015, a game in which the Aggies won in Orem 76-72.
The game opened with both teams struggling to communicate with a combined 13 turnovers. The Aggies had a post presence early with all of their eight first quarter points in the paint. The eight points posted by the Aggies gave them a one-point lead heading into the second quarter. Freshman guard Eliza West said defense was also a focus early on. West went on to record a game-high of five steals.
“Just being annoying on defense is something I aim to do,” West said. The Aggies forced 22 turnovers throughout the game.
The Aggies used the first 10 minutes to evolve their game plan, one centered around the scoring of sophomore guard Rachel Brewster who scored 15 points in the first half — three of them coming on a half-court Hail Mary shot at the buzzer of the half.
Shannon Dufficy, the freshman starting forward, added four points and six rebounds to lead the team in the opening 20 minutes. Brewster and fellow guard Jessie Geer were tied for assists with two apiece. Geer’s 3-pointer halfway through the second quarter were the first points outside the paint.
Although the Wolverines committed one less foul than the Aggies, Utah State had no first half free throw attempts. A 12-1 run, however, helped boost the Aggies lead going into the half 30-20. The Aggies shot 52 percent from the field, including a 57 percent mark from the 3-point line. The Aggies never trailed in the game after a brief minute early in the second quarter.
Utah Valley came into the second half with a defensive mindset, limiting the Aggies to 31 and 18 percent shooting in the third and fourth quarters respectively.
The Aggies had many stand-out contributions from their players, including West’s five steals and sophomore center Deja Mason’s five blocks — four of those coming in the second half. Dufficy added to Mason’s rebound total, grabbing eight offensive rebounds as part of her 14 total.
“Defense wins championships, but it also wins ugly games,” said Aggie head coach Jerry Finkbeiner. The Aggies held the Wolverines to 34 percent from the field, with 15 of their 47 shots being misses from the 3-point line.
Moving forward, the Aggies will host Brigham Young University on Saturday at the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum. Tip-off is at 2 p.m.