SANTA BARBARA, Calif. – A Utah State record 44 points from senior guard Jennifer Schlott helped the Aggies snap a two-game losing streak, 81-70, against UC Santa Barbara at the Thunderdome Thursday.
Schlott became the first Utah State women’s basketball player to score 40 points in Aggie history. She joins a very elite club. There have been seven men’s basketball players who have scored 44 or more points in USU history. The last player to score 44 points was Aggie-great Jaycee Carroll who did so against New Mexico State on Feb. 5, 2007.
With the win, USU snapped a two-game losing streak and improves to 6-3 this season. UCSB has now lost three-straight games, falling to 4-6 on the year.
Along with Schlott’s record-breaking performance, three other Aggies scored in double figures. Junior forwards Ingrida Strikas and Franny Vaaulu both scored 12 points with Strikas adding a team-leading seven rebounds. Sophomore Makenlee Williams has now scored in double-figures in every game with 10 points. Schlott added seven assists and five rebounds in the win.
The Gauchos were led by 15 points off the bench from Destini Mason. Both Kendra Morrison and Melissa Zornig added 12 apiece, while Morrison also added a game-leading eight boards. Both teams were turnover prone with 22 for USU and 20 for UCSB.
The Aggies got off to a slow start on the offensive end as the Gauchos jumped out to an early 12-6 lead. Some solid early defense and back-to-back baskets by Vaaulu and Williams cut the USCB lead to 12-10 which led to a Gaucho timeout.
Tough defense was what helped the Aggies get back into the game as USU tied the game at 20-20 after a Schlott steal and layup. The USU defense forced 12 turnovers and five steals in the first 15 minutes of action.
The Aggies briefly took its first lead of the game 24-22 after a Schlott jumper with 4:40 left in the half. UCSB took a seven-point advantage, 31-24, with three minutes left in the half. Utah State then went on an 8-0 run to re-take the lead 32-31.
USU took its biggest lead of the half, 36-33, with under a minute remaining after a Schlott layup. Nicole Nesbit sunk a jumper with six seconds left to cut the lead to 36-35 at half time. Schlott had 20 points at half time to almost match her season average. Both Strikas and Vaaulu had six points at the half.
UC Santa Barbara was led by seven points and six rebounds from Morrison. Jasmine Ware and Onome Jemerigbe both had six points in the first half.
Vaaulu was called for her fifth personal foul with 13:41 left in the game. Despite losing Vaaulu, the Aggies opened up an eight-point lead, 50-42, after a pair of Schlott free throws with under 12 left. USU earned its first double-digit lead after a three by sophomore guard Stephanie Bairstow, giving Utah State the 53-42 lead.
The Gauchos got the lead back to single-digits with a pair of Ware free throws cutting the lead to 62-53 with under five to play. Schlott responded with an old-fashioned three-point play to put USU back up 65-53. Utah State took as big a lead as 15 points before closing out the win 80-71. Schlott was clutch at the charity stripe down the stretch going 18-for-18 in the game.
For the game, Utah State shot 49.1 percent (26-of-53), which was its second-best of the season. The Aggies shot 35.7 percent from beyond the arc (5-of-14), while ending the game shooting a season-high 92.3 percent from the charity stripe (24-of-26). UC Santa Barbara shot 41.4 percent from the field (24-of-58), while making 5-of-18 from three which was good for 27.8 percent. The Gauchos shot 85.0 percent from the free throw line (17-of-20).
USU will its grueling six-game road swing against in-state rival BYU on Saturday, Dec. 21 at 2 p.m., on a game that will be nationally televised on BYU TV (Ch. 21 / Ch. 647 HD Comcast; Ch. 9403 on Dish Network; Ch. 68 or 374 on DirecTV in Cache Valley).
Live stats will be available this week by going to www.utahstateaggies.com. Live audio for both games is available by going to the “Listen Live” link on the front page of the Utah State web site at www.utahstateaggies.com.
Fans can follow USU women’s basketball at www.twitter.com/UtahStateWBB, as well as on facebook, at www.facebook.com/USUWBB. Aggie fans can also follow the Utah State athletic program at twitter.com/USUAthletics or on Facebook at facebook, at www.facebook.com/USUAthletics. Utah State women’s basketball is now also on instagram at www.instagram.com/USUWbasketball.
Aggie women’s basketball tickets will be available by contacting the USU Athletics Ticket Office at (435) 797-0305 or at 1-888- -STATE-1 (1-888-878-2831) for more information or visit the Utah State athletics web site at www.UtahStateAggies.com.